Archive for May 16th, 2009

Britain’s Finest

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

There I (Matt) am, driving along north of Manchester, England, and I glance in my side mirror to see flashing blue lights. “Oh,” I mumbled, “it looks like we’re being pulled over.” The first time I’ve ever been pulled and it’s just my luck that it’s in my foreign country. Saturday night we slept in Carlisle, where we had parked to sleep in the Lake District.. Sunday morning (May 10th) I took the wheel in the general direction of Coventry, England.
I mentioned that I glanced in my side mirror. We had packed the trunk too full to allow use of the rear-view mirror. Coventry would solve that. It contained a “roof box,” also known as a car carrier, we had purchased the day before on eBay. The plan was to move most of our gear onto the roof to improve vision and smell in the car. Until then, however, I noticed the blue lights out my right window.
I’ve had various brushes with the law but have never been pulled over. It’s especially surreal pulling off the road onto the left-hand-side median. It’s true, I had been speeding, driving over one-hundred. In my defense, I was only driving with the flow of traffic and it was only in kilometers. Still, the long arm of the British law had caught me. I fumbled for my South Carolina and International Drivers’ licenses as one of Britain’s finest approached on the passenger side. I wish I could tell you he frisked me on the hood of our somewhat stunning black Passat, but he didn’t. Instead he took me to his patrol car. I wasn’t being arrested; it was raining and he didn’t want to stand in it outside our window.
He calmly informed me that when he entered our license plate number, it hadn’t registered insurance for the car. Apparently, insurance purchased from the States doesn’t show up on British police records and the only document we had was a printed paper outlining the basic 30-day insurance that came with the car. He politely cautioned us from doing anything to raise suspicion before reaching London and our proof of insurance. “You look like respectable boys,” he said, but warned us that other officers might impound the car without credible insurance documentation. He was always polit and clear, unlike many American officers who seem to feel the need to intimidate. This was not a power trip. Instead, he carefully explained the situation first to me than to the guys. As we drove away, we chalked it up as another example of the friendly people of the British Isles. I was mainly relieved to not face a foreign traffic fine.