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Saturday, October 26, 2013

It's been a very busy week, the possible highlight of which was the moment I was offered the chance to buy a stolen TV by a bloke in a service station car park. That's never happened to me before. You always hear about people buying hot goods in pubs (and I don't mean lasagne) but as a general rule, the only things I'm ever offered in car parks are dirty looks and clamping fines.

Clearly, however, now that I look too old to be a policeman, the criminals are homing in on me as a potential customer. I encountered a chap on Thursday who leant out of the window of his white van to tell me that he had a load of TVs in the back which were surplus stock from a market stall (wink, wink) and he wondered if I'd be interested.

As it happens, I was interested. But only in knowing what it was that made him think I had the look of a fence about me. Possibly my wooden expression. Either way, I politely declined, and decided to take my sat-nav with me to the toilets. Apparently there are a lot of thieves about.

Having been dogged by a brief encounter in a car park, I followed that up twenty-four hours later with a far more bizarre incident on the roads. I was driving home from East Grinstead yesterday, and was just passing Lewes Hospital and approaching the prison crossroads, when I noticed a car trying to pull out of a residential street on the right. I slowed down, and waved him on, and he duly pulled out, stopping just in front of me at the traffic lights.

It was a foreign car, left-hand drive, and the moment it stopped, the driver turned on his hazard lights, got out, and started walking towards the door of my car, waving to get my attention. Naturally I assumed I was either about to be car-jacked or involved in some kind of insurance scam, but then my optimistic side took over, and I decided he probably wanted to give me fifty quid to say thank you for letting him out of the turning.

So I wound down my window. And in broken English, with an African accent and a slight sense of urgency, the man said this:

"Can you help me please? Tell me the way to Dover."

I responded (helpfully) with the word "Dover???". To which he responded "Yes, I need to get to Dover".

Now, there are two things to bear in mind here. The first is that Lewes to Dover is about eighty miles and it's not easy to plan the best route off the top of your head when you have about ten seconds until the traffic lights change. And the second is that when you're sitting twenty metres from the imposing stone walls of Lewes Prison, and you have a man in front of you who's just come from that direction, doesn't know where he is, and says he needs to get to the nearest major port, you do start to panic slightly.

But thinking on my feet (which were hovering over the accelerator pedal at the time), I told him to turn right at the traffic lights and head towards the A27. He said "Turn right?", so I said yes, and motioned with my hand in the direction of the prison. At which point he thanked me, ran back to his car just as the traffic lights changed... and promptly turned left.

So if anyone's looking for him, he'll be in Lewes town centre. Trying to catch a boat out of the country.


Phil's Mum said...

You do meet them in your job, don't you?!

Zed said...

reee-markable. Though you do look almost young enough to be a policeman.

Phil said...

You're too kind. Do you want to buy a TV?