Bush tele­graph tests coun­try lim­its

Clutha Leader - - WE’RE YOUR LOCALS -

It’s Fri­day night. The bar is full of ru­ral types, dis­sect­ing their work­ing week over a cou­ple of pints as they wait for their fish and chips to be cooked.

It won’t be a late night - just a chance to catch up on the lo­cal gos­sip and have a whinge about the weather be­fore head­ing home to watch the rugby.

Then the phone rings.

‘‘The cop’s com­ing up the val­ley,’’ the bar­maid tells those within earshot.

The bush tele­graph is in ac­tion. Some­one fur­ther south has de­clared it their civic duty to in­form the town’s ca­sual swillers of the im­pend­ing doom com­ing up the main road.

I’m sure it hap­pens in small towns all over the coun­try.

It doesn’t take long for the word to get around.

Pints are chopped and there’s a mad rush to get out the door from those liv­ing north of the town.

Cars are put into ‘sneak mode’ as the driv­ers try to fly un­der the radar. They’re prob­a­bly not over the limit - they’ve stuck to the ‘three pints and we’re out of here’ rule or drunk the pigswill low al­co­hol brew - but bet­ter to be safe than sorry.

Those that have had a few aren’t al­lowed to leave, but some are stoic and re­main.

In­quiries are made about hitch­ing a ride home in the cour­tesy coach be­fore or­der­ing an­other drink.

Those who live within walk­ing dis­tance aren’t lament­ing the fact that they’re called town­ies just now.

In walks the lo­cal cop, and out walk more cus­tomers.

‘‘He can’t ping you if he’s stand­ing next to you at the bar,’’ one ex­plains.

Just be­ing pulled over is em­bar­rass­ing enough.

Be­ing pinged guarantees you’ll never hear the end of it.

The cop knows the drill and fol­lows one driver out­side.

‘‘I was a bit chilly - just get­ting my jersey,’’ he ex­plains as he locks his ute and walks back in­side.

A great es­cape plan foiled. It’s 20 de­grees.

The cop chews the fat with the town­ies and then he’s off again.

Noses are al­most pressed to the win­dow to see what di­rec­tion he’s head­ing in, but they can’t tell whether he’s go­ing north or south, or over the back road.

The phone rings again.

He’s pulled over two cars out the way, and one of the lo­cals is off to the sta­tion.

A sad­ness falls over the bar and more drinks are or­dered.

The­o­ries are dis­cussed over the out­come and what it’ll mean for the town.

If they’ve caught one they’ll come up and catch more, it’s thought. Oth­ers think now that one’s been caught they’ll be left alone for a while.

Some­one gets a text.

The driver was un­der the limit and is on his way back from town, with the cop.

It’s an early clos­ing, the cour­tesy coach is packed and cars are left aban­doned for the night - keys left in them though, in case any­one needs to shift them.

Some cars are left all week­end. It would be rude not to call in and have a pint while you’re pick­ing your wheels up.

STACY SQUIRES/STUFF

Just be­ing pulled over for sus­pected drink driv­ing is em­bar­rass­ing enough.

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