17th January 2014

Imagine the Clarens Sector Police Forum.  Imagine them engaged in earnest discussion of matters politic, community policing and social responsibility.  Stern, upright men of letters; steely-eyed, gazing into the future with determination and honest vigour.  Imagine them ordering a round of Coke to parch their strained throats, hoarse from the stresses of their unselfish task.  Wednesday evening in the quiet village of Clarens.

Imagine this halcyon scene outside a place of social interaction.  Well, actually, the Grouse and Claret.  Imagine that – coincidentally – an irresponsible driver, somewhat detached from reality, was to circle the Clarens Square on two wheels, at rather high speed, before executing an intriguing manoeuvre in which he rotates his borrowed VW Golf on the proverbial ‘tickey’ and spins around the corner into Van Zyl Street.  All the while, and this is a completely non-judgemental statement, with his car radio straining the range of human hearing.

Imagine, if you can calculate the odds against this, that this young man loses control of his borrowed and uninsured vehicle, and accelerates across the lane and into a parked car approximately one-metre from the assembled ranks of the Clarens Sector Police Forum, now arrested (if you will pardon the expression) in mid-swig.  Imagine, if you can, the moment of complete silence that follows as several brains attempt to re-assemble the chain of events that has, quite fortuitously, unfolded before them.

Fast forward as the SPF kick back their benches and leap into action to save the unfortunate driver (?) from a potentially flaming wreck, only to review their selfless action and switch to arrest-mode as what turns out to be ‘the culprit’ endeavours to reverse away/flee the scene/take a swing at the SPF/have a drink.  The resulting pursuit in a borrowed 5-ton truck of uncertain vintage rivals the Keystone Cops for authenticity but comes up empty.  Only half-an-hour passes before the Police roar onto the scene and begin processing the evidence.  Imagine that one of the stunned assembly considers the thought that the car hit in this incident looks remarkably like his.  Indeed, it is his, a fact confirmed by the long arm of the law in its patient enquiries at the scene.  Thank God for insurance; but – alas, alack – the offending driver doesn’t have any.

Moral of the story?  If you are a lawyer, you might want to avoid attempting the defence of a demonstrably dangerous and negligent driver when the witness list includes the entire Clarens Sector Police Forum, sober and wide-eyed with outrage.  And the owner of the recipient vehicle in this unintended automotive mating.

Oh, and did I mention the horse?  The appearance of an anonymous rider galloping a horse repeatedly around the Square added immeasurably to the wild improbability of the scene.  All we were missing was a young woman with blue hair skateboarding back and forth in front of the Brewery to qualify Clarens for the hologram of the century award.  But of course that’s simply impossible, since such creatures don’t exist.  Do they?

Finally, birds, which is what the editor pays me to write about.  I think there were one or two at the scene, possibly a Swallow or even a White-Faced Vulture, but I confess I was too shaken to take notes.  Not due to shock or moral outrage; but the fact that the aforementioned lunatic missed my car by millimetres, on his way into what will henceforth be known as Lucky Mark’s car.

I do love the quiet of post-Christmas Clarens.