The Speed Trap
George donned his
camouflaged jacket and black balaclava. He hung
his night vision binoculars around his neck and
slipped quietly from his back door into the dark
His garden backed onto a
small wood, and he made his way through the trees
towards the main road that joined his small
English country village to the next. At the road
he had already installed his remaining equipment.
George had been bullied at
school. His small stature and, well . . . frankly,
his highly irritating manner, had led him to be a
attainment had tethered him to middle management
posts throughout his working life. Taken for
granted, overlooked, under-fulfilled and
patronised, he had frequently lapsed into Walter
Mitty style fantasies at the office: He had
sometimes imagined himself marching in one
morning with an AK47 assault rifle and taking out
Jenkins, Smith, Robertson, Singh, Sharif, Jones .
. . everyone, in fact . . . except Mavis.
Mavis had been PA to the
director. She had never been unpleasant to him.
Mavis had always had a kind word for everyone,
At the end of his homicidal
imaginings, Mavis was always the only one left
alive. She would be standing, looking puzzled,
amid the ghastly scene of carnage: bodies draped
across desks, blood running down walls. How
are you feeling, George, she would say,
kindly, you dont seem quite yourself,
George had fortunately
reached retirement without locating an AK47 on
eBay, and had settled down to cultivate his
garden and his lifelong resentments.
Then, the letter had
Speeding was a problem in
his village, and the police were seeking local
residents to staff a Citizens Traffic
Review. Selected local individuals would be
provided with the same equipment as was used by
the police to conduct speed traps. Results from
the use of the equipment could not be used for
prosecutions, but a letter would be sent to
offenders to remind them of the irresponsible
nature of their conduct. Three such reminders
would result in a warning visit from their local
George had felt positively
faint at the thought of the power he could thus
George joined the local
group of community speed-checkers, monitoring the
progress of vehicles through his village.
Initially, his expectations
had been completely fulfilled. During one
marvellous spring morning he had registered eight
cars exceeding the thirty miles per hour speed
limit. As the weeks passed, however, fewer and
fewer arrogant, law-flouting examples of
Georges probable erstwhile oppressors were
apprehended. It had become impossible for the
speed traps to remain secret. There must have
been an informer!
Many months later it
emerged that Doris Speedwell, the wife of the
village speed-checkers coordinator, Morris
Speedwell, had been central to sabotaging the
She had harboured
resentment, every bit as profound as
Georges, about how her life might have been
fulfilled had she not been subjugated to a
conventional middle class, matrimonial and
maternal role by, in her assessment, the most
arrogant and tedious man who had ever lived.
Doris had conducted a
covert, Mata Hari style mission with consummate
skill, and had rather savoured the clandestine
excitement. Morris had been flattered by his
wifes apparent interest in his heroic, law
enforcement activities and so had been careless
in revealing the times, dates and locations of
Having recorded this
information, Doris had fed it directly to speed-check-avoiders.co.uk,
who had disseminated it via the Internet and via
sat nav speed check warning systems.
Within three months, the
speed-checkers were bagging less than one victim
each week. This was typically a fraught and
depressed mother, rushing to fit-in shopping
before work after dropping her three fractious
children at their nursery and primary schools.
Indeed, they were not the sort of respectable
citizens that the local PCSO had expected to
scream abuse, on more than one occasion, at the
announcement of a friendly, traffic violation
George had no idea who was
tipping-off the enemy, but realised that he could
trust no one. He needed to act alone to bring the
guilty to justice.
Thus had he planned his
lone, night-time mission. At eleven-thirty at
night, those cocky, pushy, speeding bastards
would never be expecting him!
George lay down in the
grass by the main road and peered through his
night vision binoculars. He was at a high point,
and could see the road for some distance as it
rose from the village centre. This allowed him to
judge the speed of approaching vehicles and, if
that speed appeared sufficiently high, to spring
Darkness presents a severe
technical challenge for any amateur wishing to
set a speed trap. There is insufficient light for
the speed-check equipment to photograph a number
plate. George, however, had not been deterred by
this obstacle. He had made an excuse to borrow
the key to the lock-up that contained the
lighting equipment of the local amateur dramatic
society. Those lights were now focused upon the
road, twenty metres away. They would, at the
touch of a switch, light that road as clearly as
they had illuminated Jack on his ascent of the
beanstalk at the previous Christmas pantomime. It
would be more than a match for the next speeding
A car came into view
through Georges binoculars. This was a
thirty mph zone; it was clearly doing nearer to
George aimed the speed
camera at his chosen point on the road and poised
his hand above the switch for the lights.
The car sped towards him.
Five, four, three, two, one.
The road and the
surrounding sky lit up as if it were day. The
blinding illumination momentarily hurt
Georges eyes, but he resolutely focussed on
the car and triggered the speed camera.
The car swerved from one
side of the road to the other, its driver
apparently blinded and disoriented by the sudden
glare. Some sixty metres beyond George, the
driver finally lost all control. The vehicle
careered from the road and crashed into a
building - the outhouse in which the local calor
gas supplier stored his cylinders.
The sudden ferocity of the
explosion and subsequent conflagration took
George totally by surprise.
He concluded that it was
time to curtail his speed-checking activities for
George did not need his
torch while he was quickly recovering the lights.
Neither as he rapidly retraced his steps through
Sounds of explosions and
sirens, and the glow of flames in the night sky
were still apparent as he locked the lighting
equipment store. These were continuing, unabated,
as he later peered out through the curtains of
his own front room.
George withdrew an old book
on philately from his bookshelf. Perhaps, he
thought, it was time to take up a new interest.