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He played nervously with the indicator stalk and dipped at the accelerator. The engine threatened and then cooled, ticking with angry heat. As the lights changed he powered up the dual carriageway and merged with the traffic joining the ring road that would eventually loop him out of the city. At last he felt he was moving, it had begun to rain and his wipers swished over the fat drops.

The radio announced possible delays. The medical profession for the first time in a generation had decided to strike. He had little sympathy for them, they earnt more than him and had better pensions than most and were now going to delay his meeting.

One by one the cars ahead of him slowed and out of frustration he threw himself back in to his seat. Driving past the line of bright orange cones and fluorescent strip of police officers he noticed how few protestors there were. There was no shouting, no jeering, no chanting. They were stragglers in awkward groups blooming and uncoordinated in the rain. As he peered though his windscreen he understood their silence. Pushed into each of their mouths were cloth gags, wrapped and so tightly knotted at the back that they puckered the skin. Only one of them held up a banner. It was blank. No slogan. No message. No idea.

He accelerated away from the gagged protest and glanced at them in his mirror for one last time. He was confident that nothing would ever come of it. 

Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen

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