Early on a bleak Sunday morning I was clocked by Cambridge Constabulary speeding through the streets of Madingley. My heart sank as the flash of the speed camera told me I had potentially another three points on my licence.
But when I tore open the letter from said police force I was delighted to see that instead of a fine and a punishing endorsement, I was offered the chance to be re-educated. I swiftly booked myself onto the Speeding Awareness course. It meant giving up four hours on a Friday evening – but it has taken me on a deeper journey altogether. A slower journey.
Most people that know me, will tell you that I operate at 100mph (I hasten to add it was only 35mph through Madingley). My brain likes to skip between portrait painting, conflict transformation, being a good wife, an innovative parent, a blogger, not to mention holding down a full-time all-absorbing job. I whizz through airports, speed read novels, and want people and technology to “work quicker”. I have lunged through Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, Pakistan (and very often France). One week I want to write a novel, the next run for election, and the next embark on property development in Bulgaria. My life, it could be said, is a confusing rush of energy.
Asking me to sit down with 19 other “offenders” for four hours to contemplate my need for speed was therapy in more ways than one. I realise now that I was lucky to have been caught by a speed camera and not by a 13 year old pedestrian distracted by a text message. But I wonder whether I have caused other fatal collisions in my swiftness throughout life. I have told myself I am dynamic and driven (pardon the pun) – but perhaps I am simply superficial and impatient. Fact is – my love of life makes me see that there is simply too much that interests and excites me and in an attempt to “do it all” – I may well be living without due care and attention.
So. I am slowing down to (just) within the legal limits. Those who know me may not notice an external change for as usual I will wear a mask of calm – but know that inside I am more measured, more reflective and less agitated.
One in twelve people will reoffend after taking the course – but this compares with one in four who don’t take part. If you get clocked speeding I thoroughly recommend taking part (if you are offered the chance). It might not change the way you live – but it might change the way you drive.