Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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20/11/16: caught speeding back in the UK

So, here I am a week back in Dar es Salaam.  And then to get an email from my Dad to say that he's been sent a letter from Warwickshire police, his car was photographed going at 39 miles per hour in a 30 mile per hour zone.

OK, let's think about this.  I was indeed driving my Dad's car in Warwickshire at the time when the phographs were taken.  So I have no choice, really, but to concede that I have committed the offence, to accept the fine and points on my licence.

And speaking as a bit of a health and safety freak, 'Usalama kwanza' (safety first) being my favourite Swahili phrase, I am very aware that when I drive a car that's a large amount of metal under my control which can easily become a lethal weapon.  So I do actually make all reasonable attempts are made to keep it properly serviced, to keep to the rules of the road, and passengers of mine will tell you that I can become boringly obsessive about the need to stick to speed limits.  Although keeping speed down is, of course, only one thing we need to do to keep safe, avoiding distractions - with mobile phones now at the top of the list - is also important, as is avoiding driving when unduly tired.

But I have to say that I'm left feeling a bit miffed by the whole business.  As far as I can make out, the offence took place on a main road which presumably was marked as 30 miles per hour, but I missed it, with other cues implying, wrongly, that the speed limit was higher.  I have absolutely no memory of this at all.  I'm being told about it a week later, now on a different continent.  Working in initial teacher training on classroom management, one of the points I was keen to make was that, if you do enter down the punishment line, the closer the punishment can be to the crime (eg. cleaning desks if the offence was sticking chewing gum on them) and the closer in time the punishment can be to the offence the better, the stronger the psychological link between the punishment and the crime that gave rise to it.  As things stand, I am feeling no psychological link between my speeding and the punishment arising.  It's difficult to feel sorry when I was totally unaware at the time that i was doing anything wrong, and taking all reasonable precautions against doing so.

But I broke the law, i understand this, ignorance is no excuse, enforcing speed limits is a perfectly legitimate means of keeping roads safe.  But I'm still feeling hard done by, that I've learnt nothing useful for future experience, that I cannot reasonably see how I could have done anything differently, that getting caught like this is a hazard of driving which just has to be accepted.

Meanwhile, no speed cameras here in Tanzania as far as I am aware, I have on a small number of occasions been stopped by police with hand held speed cameras.  No system of points on licences, instant fines, the psychological connection was there - offence was committed, stopped, fine paid, all within a few minutes.  I normally have bottles of water in the car which I give to police if they're nice to me in these circumstances.

Not sure where I'm heading with this.  It is no coincidence that this offence occurred when I was away from my normal beaten tracks following the directions of a sat nav.  Are the signs clear enough for people who don't already know that they are there and are thinking about something else?  Are there better ways of keeping roads safe, working with the majority of drivers, I think, who actively want to keep within the law and drive safely?

Aware this is becoming a bit of a ramble so will stop here. Any thoughts gratefully received as always.


Meanwhile, still no work permit, however, not able to be employed but no problem playing Organ at the cathedral.  This morning the other Cathedral organists were with the choir in Bagamoyo this morning so, for the first time, played for all three services, first Swahili then English then Swahili again, starting at 7am and finishing at about 11.45am.  That is to say, I started at 7am, unbeknown to me the first service was put back to 6.45am whilst I was away, I didn't think to check and nobody thought to tell me.  Slightly embarrassing arriving to play the Organ for a service which had already started.  Also, the third service is noticeably more aljgned to the Anglican high church tradition, with lots of incense - still able to read the hymn book by the end of the service but it was quite a close call!  And a considerable number of extra sung bits which were led by Danford, a stalwart member of the choir who stayed behind to hold the for, normally these extra bits would be accompanied by the Organ.  Coupled with some other points I've been thinking about recently I'm heading towards a post on how churches can ensure a welcome to people who are not used to coming, happy to accept any suggestions in advance of this post.  That's it for now, trust you have a good week ahead!

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