Thursday, 18 March 2010
Driving I'll admit, does not always bring out the very best in me. Mr S used to joke that Britain had always been considered a relatively safe place until I passed my driving test. My what a card he was. But actually if I'm honest it is not completely unheard of, on the odd rare occasion, for me to be taken over by a rather unattractive and impromptu bout of road-rage. This only ever happens within the private confines of my own car I would hasten to add, but I do once in a while catch myself tapping irritably on the steering wheel and swearing under my breath at other (annoyingly incompetent) road users. In fact my two most favourite driving expressions ever are: 'Hoo yes, that is an inspired place to stop there matey' and 'Come on sunshine, you could get a bloody bus through there' ( I am nothing if not original.) For some reason the inside of my car is the only place in the entire world in which I ever refer to anybody as 'sunshine'. It's as if the moment I get behind the wheel, there is always the possibility that I will become possessed by an entirely new persona - a kind of drivers alter ego if you like - and that this other self just happens to sport a deeply unconvincing mockney accent to boot.
Some time ago I was having a discussion with a friend about road rage. She had recently moved from the capital to live more rurally, and I remember her saying that in the London borough where she had lived there would sometimes be articles in the local paper describing how Lollipop ladies had been verbally or even sometimes physically attacked by irate commuters, angry at being forced to stop so that children could safely cross the road to school. My friend had shaken her head in disbelief and declared: 'You know you're scum when you have a go at a lollipop lady.' I had nodded gravely in agreement. Ha, at least I had the decency to swear at other drivers in such a way that they couldn't actually hear me. What kind of moral degenerate would openly abuse a lollipop lady? Jeez.
A couple of days ago I was driving home from work after a long and draining start to the week, and I saw a lollipop lady up ahead walk out into the road waving her stop sign. I slowed down, and came to a halt just as a young woman with a pram started to cross over the road behind her. Now my cars horn is located slap bang in the centre of the steering wheel (which is a stupid place to put it in my opinion Mr Renault designer just in case you're listening.) Tired as I was, I leaned my forearm without thinking across the steering wheel to rest my chin on while I waited. Suddenly there was this almighty deafening BEEEEP!! The poor woman with the pram nearly leapt three feet into the air, and the lady brandishing the lollipop fixed me with a scowl so fierce that I nearly melted on the spot. My slightly panicked response to this was to wave my hands around in such a manner as I thought clearly communicated 'oh god I'm really sorry, I did not mean to do that, damn horn is in a really stupid place eh.' At which point the lollipop ladies scowl darkened to a look of undiluted fury, and I realised that now not only did she think that I had deliberately leaned on my horn because I was impatient at having to stop for a young mother and her baby to cross the road, but that I was also now waving my arms around aggressively in such a manner as to say: 'Get out of the fucking road and take your stupid stick with you before I run you over....' or something like that.
So I am now waiting with baited breath for a headline to appear in my local paper screaming: 'MYSTERY ARM WAVING WOMAN IN SILVER RENAULT CLIO THREATENS POOR WEE INNOCENT LOLLIPOP LADY' and for all my neighbours reading it to think 'Hmm, mad arm waving woman in a silver renault clio... now then, who could that be? Oh hang on a minute - of course - that'll be Gappy.