A Hillman in 1945
When I am stupidly rich, I will have a barn full of lovely cars; a Morgan, several early Bugattis, a powder blue MGA, an MGTC Midget, a Mk II Jaguar, several varieties of Morris Minor, a Ford Anglia, a Hillman Minx, a Frogeye Sprite, a – you get the picture.
I really like driving and I really, really like cars. I am not currently in a position to chose exactly which type of car I drive, but I do own an X Reg Escort which does sterling work bearing in mind that it has to act as a car, a van, a café and sometimes even a dormitory. It goes remarkably fast and doesn’t go wrong nearly as much as one might expect for a car that does in excess of 20,000 miles a year.
I spend a stupid amount of time in my car but my driving pleasure is completely spoiled by the presence of others. I know that we all think we’re the best drivers in the world, and that is as true of me as of anyone else. I know that I should slow down more when I have passengers and that I should not be allowed behind the wheel when I’m stressed (the only injuries my car has ever sustained have happened when I’m ‘on the edge’) – I get distracted. I know this.
But I have maintained a pretty good grasp of the basic rules of the road. I am constantly astonished by how many people have no idea where they should be on a roundabout or, if they can trouble themselves to indicate at all, at which point they should do so. Others appear to believe that the national speed limit on a country road is 40 (50 if they have a clear view of 10 miles or more) and I suspect that those same people believe the speed limit in a village to be 50. What worries me about this latter group is their failure to respond to changing circumstances. I live in the countryside, so farm vehicles are a natural presence, but I do feel that if they are trundling along the A6, at 8.15am, at 25 mph, with a tailback of two and a half thousand cars, the courteous thing to do would be to pull into a sodding lay-by, just to give us all a chance.
And then there are the tailgaters. They absolutely terrify me, particularly on the motorway. I admit that I drive fast on the motorway because I like to and because I am always short of time. But if I am going at 90 70mph, I never, ever sit ten feet behind the car in front until they move out of my way. I have no wish to die or to kill others. Although I often wish a nasty case of genital herpes on the drivers who sit in the middle lane, doing 60mph in cars designed to do 140mph in the shade.
I am also troubled by The Hesitant Ones; the constant touchers of brakes, the refusers to move at junctions, the 40mph’ers. The only ones that I am prepared to forgive are the elderly, as it is entirely possible that their car is their lifeline to independence and a sense of purpose. However. When I am Queen (which could be any day now) they will be obliged to display a sticker in the back window which reads ‘I am old but determinedly independent. Please bear with me’. Motorists will then smile indulgently, and give them a wide berth, waving pleasantly as they overtake in a non-threatening way.
I will not tolerate discourtesy on the road any more than I will tolerate it in any other situation. I have been known to get out of my car, rap on the window of another and demand a full and frank explanation of their behaviour, much to the amusement of my children and their friends. They were particularly enthused when I gave the bus driver a prolonged and articulate earful for arrogant and selfish parking outside the school.
What is interesting is that there is no hand gesture for ‘Sorry!’. We can wave our hands for ‘Thank you’, ‘Carry on’; ‘No, no I insist you go first’; we can brandish varying 5ths of our hands to express displeasure; shrug our shoulders for ‘What can I do?’. But no way of saying ‘Sorry, I was a complete arse, forgive me’. What do you suggest?
I don’t really suffer from Road Rage. I suffer from seething, boiling, expletive ridden Road Resentment.
Oh hang ona minute , I forgot to mention Speed Cameras……aargh urgh……
We apologise for the tailing off of this article. The Wartime Housewife has been removed to a secure unit.