The Call Of Duty

It's a tough life in the British police force. So tough that every police station in the English county of Cambridgeshire may soon be equipped with soundproof "contemplation rooms" where officers can work out their frustrations and ruminate on the crazy rigours of the job.

Perhaps the most overworked are the men from the Protection Squad, who have to guard our entire Royal family - even the C listers. That means that if Princess Eugenie, the not-very-well known 19-year-old daughter of the equally unremarkable Prince Andrew, does pick an American University for her future studies, two extremely bored British bobbies will have to go to every lecture with her.

They probably joined up to track down terrorists and make the world a safer place. Instead they end up looking after a minor Princess or else chasing that most dangerous breed of criminals - old-aged pushbike racers.

You see, in our southern seaside town of Bournemouth, the law has now been ordered to go zero-tolerance on hoodlums of the handlebars. Now Bournemouth is the country's number one retirement zone. Normally it's a peaceful place where smiling senior citizens take to two wheels to keep fit. Every day, down by the promenade, hundreds of them can be spotted pedalling their way sedately as the waves gently lap the shore.

But some reach speeds as high as 10 miles an hour. 10 miles an hour! Think about it. Scary stuff. Enough to make your dentures rattle.

So now the police have been ordered to stop these Hell's Grannies. Portable laser speed guns have been issued and the order is to shoot on sight.

But there's a small problem. English pushbikes don't come with speedometers, so fast-moving wrinklies-in-lycra aren't technically breaking any laws. Which means the worst the boys-in-blue can do is give them a lecture, hand them a leaflet and send them on their way. That's quite enough to drive any self-respecting policeman screaming for the nearest soundproof "contemplation room".
By Ed Boyle