My next set of adventures was slightly different. Well, a whole world different really.
For this tour I was ‘lucky’ enough to be the Boss’s Driver. This meant a room of my own, a 2 litre Renault courtesy of Mr Hertz and the privilege of chauffeuring Superintendent ********* around for a week.
The advantages were that I didn’t have to form up in the cordons of officers facing the rampaging miners, I had my place with the boss, completely out of reach of trouble. I also had access to a car for a week.
The downside was parading for duty at 1am every day and not finishing until the boss decided to stand everybody down for the evening. Because I didn’t have a proper role at the mines (and he was responsible for several) I was treated like his personal Errand Boy and his requirements were sometimes errmm irregular (no, not in THAT way).
One day during the week the Mine Management of Bentinck Mine asked us if we would be interested in going down to the coal face to see what life was like underground. Quite rightly the boss said that anybody who wanted that experience (he didn’t, surprisingly) could do do once he had stood everyone down for the day. So one relatively quiet day those that were interested reported to the changing rooms to get kitted out with our helmets, overalls and safety kit. Every miner has a brass token so they always have a tally of who is underground at any time. We obviously didn’t have one so they made us each a unique one with our unique Police number on it, which we were then able to keep as a souvenir. I still have mine to this day.
The ‘cage’ proved to be a real bottle-tester as it appeared to just drop under the force of gravity then screech to a sudden halt at the bottom. We then had to transfer to a Man Rider for the rest of the journey to the coal face. This was just a long conveyor belt with numerous rollers that we just had to lie flat on until we got to the face.
One miner we saw was lying on his stomach hacking away at a coal face just 2’6″ high. The main seam was 8′ high and was cut by machine. It was noisy, it was dusty and it was hot, very hot. Believe me, I found a whole new respect for any coal miner that day.
Nothing much more happened until Friday. The Superintendent found a whole list of things for me to do, leaving him at the pit, while I drove round the roads of Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire doing his bidding. My very last errand of the day was to drop off at an Army Camp to see the Met Transport Sergeant about returning the hire car to Mr Hertz over the weekend.
I left the Army camp to make my way back to meet the boss at whichever mine he was at, turned right out of the camp onto a three lane, single carriageway road. As I was part-way through my turn something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. I glanced to my left, and to my absolute horror saw a low-flying Porsche bearing down on me. I had a split second to do something.
I decided that I would complete my turn into Lane 2 giving the Porsche driver the choice of Lane 1 or Lane 3 (fortunately empty) to go past. The Porsche driver opted for Lane 1 and nearly made it, just clipping my nearside, rear corner.
In a split second I went from F***, to Phew that could have been worse, to sheer abject horror as I saw the Porsche slide past me, pirouette in the middle of the road then disappear off to the left, demolishing a fence, a tree and ending up in a ditch having shed various body parts along the way. I honestly feared the worst until a lady climbed out through the sunroof asking what had happened. There was not a single scratch on her.
I contacted the local Police Control Room and they despatched a Traffic Sergeant to deal with the accident.
I have no idea how long it took him to arrive but when he did the very first thing he did was to ask the woman what had happened. She didn’t know. He then went across to the other side of the road to ask a layby full of lorry drivers if any of them had witnessed the accident. None of them had seen a thing. He eventually got round to speaking with me “Blow in here”. “You must be joking I’ve been working since 1 am” (it was about 10am by now). “I’m not joking, are you Refusing?” “I’m not Refusing, let’s get it over with”.
So I blew the negative breath test that I always knew I would. He looked at and said “Right then, Without Due Care it is then”. I can’t honestly remember if he then suspended me from driving duties or got a Met Supervisor to do it, but the end result was the same. His next move was a classic. He called up a colleague, did a complete vehicle exam on my car (thank you for giving me such a good car Mr Hertz), then they closed the road in both directions while they reconstructed the accident and carried out various Skid Tests and Acceleration Test in their Ford Grandads.
For some reason he even felt that he could detain me in an office until everything was done, even though I was not under arrest.
I was eventually collected by somebody and taken back to confront the boss at the pit. One of the chaps asked me if I was alright, at which point the boss interrupted with “he won’t be, my f***ing golf clubs are in the boot”.
I then had to suffer the ignominy of being driven back to the Met by the boss that I was supposed to be driving, still going on about his bloody golf clubs.
What happened next? All will be revealed.
To be continued………..