The Ginger Policeman
On an August day in 2002, I drove up to Doddington in the Cheviot Hills of Northumberland to visit the cup-and-ring-marked rocks on Dod Law (pictured above). The afternoon was beautiful, sunny and warm. The rocks are a mysterious place, and perhaps my experience afterwards can be laid at the door of a touch of sunstroke or the influence of the strange location. I got back to my car, which I’d parked in a lay-by just outside Doddington village. I opened a bottle of juice and ate the last of my sandwiches. Everything was fine and I felt quite normal, happy with my afternoon’s adventure. I saw a movement in the road in front of me and glanced up to see a police car coming towards me. I don’t know what caused me to notice the last three letters of the registration plate – perhaps because they spelled a word, LET or ART or something – I can’t remember. Also, the car was being driven by a red-haired policeman. I noticed that because the sun brought out the colour. He drove past me.
I returned to my book and my picnic and thought nothing more of the incident... until half a minute later, when I noticed movement in the road ahead of me again. Once more I looked up. Another police car. Weirdly, the number plate – LET or ART or whatever it had been – was the same. And, as far as I could possibly tell in the five or so seconds I had to observe as the car went past, it was being driven by the same red-headed policeman.
I didn’t know how to interpret this. I didn’t know what possible significance the double event could have, and for a few minutes I just carried on reading, packing up the remains of my lunch, getting ready to start the trip home. And then I began to feel... weird. As if a shadow had fallen on the sunny afternoon. The hairs on my nape stood up, and a sense of oppression took hold of me. Apprehension, almost. The best description of the feeling I can give is this: that I’d seen something I shouldn’t have, observed a “jump in the reel” of reality, as if a cosmic tape somewhere had hiccupped and hitched and begun to play again. Suddenly I wanted to get away from there. I had a horrible conviction that if I didn’t put distance between me and the place where I’d inadvertently witnessed this, something would happen to stop me.
I drove off as quickly as I could. I did check one thing on a map later, which was that there was no roundabout or circular connecting road which could have brought the police car round and past me twice in that short space of time. No – the road the cars had taken, and my route out, was a long straight stretch of the B6525. I don’t know what this means. All I can say is that I didn’t feel calm or safe again until I was well on my way home. I’ve spoken to a few friends about it, and they have no ideas either, except to agree that I had perhaps seen a “reality glitch”, and incurred the wrath of whomever/whatever is in charge of these things! Harper Fox (Ms) By email