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Thursday, May 25, 2006

The trouble with Brighton is that you just don't get the same level of excitement as you do in the villages around Shotley Gate. The most dramatic moment of my final day on the south coast was when the checkout girl at Asda started abusing me for buying too many drinking straws (two packets clearly represented a dangerous obsession in her book, and she came close to calling the manager). So I left Brighton on Tuesday night, collected my cat from the babysitters shortly after midnight, successfully managing to wake them up in the process by slamming my car door too hard, and arrived home at 1:30am.

Lisa was supposed to be coming with me, but at the last minute she was forced to stay in Brighton due to tragic and unforeseen circumstances. Her boss refused to give her the time off work. I wasn't happy. Which is probably why I slammed the car door.

I shot the sheriff.But if there's one thing likely to cheer me up, it's quality late-night television on Channel 5, presented by bouffanted Americans with fake tan and too much make-up. Hence the gratuitous shot of Sheriff John Bunnell, the melodramatic ham at the forefront of one of my personal favourites, "World's Wildest Police Videos" (C5, 11:25pm, Sunday - don't miss it). Sheriff John (retired, possibly due to allegations about his sexuality) has introduced us on countless occasions to the 'stinger', a contraption involving metal spikes which can be flung across the road by police officers to puncture the tyres of a fleeing scum-mobile during high speed car chases usually involving helicopters, guns, and people from trailer parks.

Obviously spending most of my time in the quiet Dullsville which is Brighton, I've never actually seen anything like that in real life, but I've been back in Shotley Gate for almost 48 hours now, so it was only a matter of time...

I drove to Manningtree this afternoon to visit the bank, buy some courgettes, and check for bird flu amongst the local swan population, and on my way back, taking a short cut through the countryside between Brantham and Stutton, less than half a mile from Griff Rhys Jones's house, I rounded the corner and spotted a police car trying to hide itself in a grass verge. StungThe driver, who probably should have turned off his flashing lights before attempting any kind of camouflage, motioned to me to keep going, which I did, only to round the next corner and be confronted with a scene familiar to any fan of wild American police videos - a cop hiding in the bushes with a coiled stinger.

I was so excited, I drove straight over the string he was about to pull to activate the thing, and headed around the bend, where a third policeman beckoned to me with the kind of hand gesture which said "Get a move on you idiot, there's a drug crazed lunatic coming up behind you at 100mph". Which is enough to make anyone put their foot down and speed past a roadblock. I attempted to give the waiting drivers on the other side of the barricade a friendly reassuring look, just in case they thought *I* was the criminal, but fortunately I drive a Skoda, so no one's likely to think it's stolen. Although to the untrained eye I do look quite common.

And that was about it really. I've checked the Ipswich Evening Star website this evening to find out just who was fleeing from the police at high speed through the Suffolk countryside, and whether the stinger successfully punctured their tyres, or merely forced them off the road and into the nearby executive barn conversion, but sadly the Evening Star seem to be going with "Fury Over Scaffolding Bungle" and "Dozens of Litterbugs Fined". So it's possible the police weren't trying to catch a runaway criminal after all. It might just have been the quickest way to stop Griff for an autograph.