It's lovely, my local town. You take a ten minute drive away from my house, up out of a valley and down a long and winding road with stunning views out over green hills and fields, and you're there. It's colourful and interesting with just the right amount of charming and eccentric thrown in. Full of independent shops and local produce, it has a real close-knit community feel to it. The post-office workers ask after your children and the woman who works in the second hand bookshop keeps books back for you that she thinks you'll be interested in.
Down the bottom of town is a row of really lovely (but overpriced) shops - mostly independent and family owned. There is a gorgeous cook-ware shop selling everything from heavy cast iron Le Creuset pans to rows and rows of tiny pots of food colouring pastes in every shade of every colour imaginable. There is a drapers with samples from floor to ceiling of beautiful silks and fabrics (you can hear the sewing machines gently whirring upstairs) and an interiors shop full of locally thrown pottery and hand made furniture. There is also an extravagantly upmarket clothes shop to which people have been known to travel from London when there is a sale on.
Now much as I hate to generalise, there is a certain type of woman can often be seen parking her extremely posh and unnecessarily large vehicle in one of the free parking spaces that lie facing onto both sides of the one way street on which these shops are situated. With her designer sunglasses perched elegantly atop her head and great clouds of perfume wafting in her wake, her entire demeanour screams, "I am expensive!!! My husband works away!!! I win dammit!!!"
Yesterday I had an ill child at home and some essential errands to run, so my next door neighbour kindly let my son snuggle up in his pyjamas on her sofa while I quickly made the trip into town. Driving slowly up the aforementioned one way street, I could see only one empty parking space that had been made impossible to get into due to a woman in a BMW X6 straddling one of the white lines that marked it, essentially taking up two parking spaces. I was anxious to get back to my boy and so in a bit of a hurry, stopped my car, got out, and politely asked the woman in the BMW to please move over slightly so I could pop my car in next to her. I got back into my car intending to reverse it out of the way in order to allow her to re-park, but by this time other cars had driven up behind me, so I was unable to move back untill they had all passed. Obviously annoyed by my effrontery at having asked her to move in the first place, the woman in the BMW then reversed huffily out of the parking bays without looking and, despite my frantic beeping, drove straight into the drivers side of my tiny Clio. Shocked, I drove forwards, stopped further up the hill and got out. The woman and her two passengers had also got out of their vehicle and looked about to walk off in the other direction. I walked quickly towards them. One of them turned to me with a false, spiteful eyed smile and said:
"I see you found somewhere else to park then."
Me: "Um... you've just backed into my car. My driver door's all dented."
Driver: "Well I didn't feel anything"
Me: "But come and look at my car!"
Driver: (walking up the road with her expensive friends to survey the damage, and then asking incredulously) "And that's just happened has it?"
Me: "Yes! I'm not lying for goodness sake. You just backed into me. You know you did. Didn't you hear me beeping?"
Driver: (raising her voice) "Yes, so I stopped. Anyway, you knew I was going to reverse. You didn't move out of the way! Pretty bloody stupid thing to do if you ask me!"
Me: "There were people behind me. I couldn't move out of the way. You would have known that had you been looking, which is what I presumed you would do. Most people tend to before reversing I find."
Drivers friend: (with same false spiteful smile as before) "Well I certainly didn't feel anything either, and for a dent that big I think we probably would have don't you?"
To be honest I was starting to feel a bit out of my depth. Already shaky from having had an (albeit minor) bump, I was now faced with three hostile women who were not only flatly denying what was obviously true, but who were also now openly sneering at both me (I had barely had time to brush my hair that morning) and my slightly grubby, bashed up car (complete with screwed up fruit gum wrappers all over the dash.) In the end the driver reluctantly gave me her details and they walked off, their heels clicking down the pavement, the drivers friend suddenly turning around to administer a parting shot:
"So do you want the details of two witnesses who didn't feel anything happen then?"
It was one of those situations where you think of about a million ways in which you could have handled it better - only about half an hour later. But in that moment as I stood there in the street watching them disappear in a trail of over-dressed nastiness into the clothes boutique, all I could think was:
"But hang on. You crashed into me..."