ALL right, I’m a sinner. I broke the speed limit driving at 60mph in a 50s zone somewhere in deepest Derbyshire.

Ignoring sarcastic comments from my elder son who was astonished my car could reach such dizzy heights of 60, I prepared to accept what horrors the law might inflict.

To my surprise they offered a four-hour session designed to highlight and encourage repentance at a centre of my choosing all for the sum of £90 – a tenner under the going rate for a fine and no penalty points.

Only a fool would have turned it down.

But where should I serve my punishment? To choose the Thames Valley Police location might have left me open to further ridicule, this time from the many officers I know in our force, while a return to Derbyshire would clock up many unnecessary miles.

Therefore I decided upon the Northamptonshire Police ‘confession suite’ – the comfortable, modern Park Inn at Radisson in Northampton itself.

I expect the course is more or less the same no matter where you choose: facing facts about the danger of speeding, failure to assess situations, a strong reminder about road signs – especially speed limits – and the rights of other road users.

However, the session was run by two delightful ladies who made sure our group of 20-plus speeders was neither bored nor crushed in spirit while making us think carefully about our future behaviour behind the wheel. The time flew by.

Add to this there was free parking at the hotel and hot or cold drinks and biscuits before the session and at the interval. There have been worse afternoons.

LOOSELY linked to what had been learned a few days before was my reaction when I spotted a young woman apparently oblivious to danger.

She was in charge of a pushchair containing a cute baby girl and they were preparing to cross the road at the pedestrian point outside Nuffield College.

Not that the woman was checking the lights. She was busy on her mobile phone and apparently unaware that three feet of the pushchair extended into the traffic lane.

Smiling broadly, I suggested she might pull back. She told me to f*** off, and resumed her key pad tapping.

Ah well, I tried.

THE city is currently awash with ever-smiling visitors from China. Most days Cornmarket Street looks – and sounds – more like downtown Beijing.

“They don’t know how to lower their voice,|” observed Enid, an 82-year-old from Marston who claimed she had ‘seen and heard it all’.

“At one time the Italians were the noisiest. Compared with the Chinese they were like Trappist monks.”

Still it’s better than being silent and miserable, Enid.