Thursday, 12 February 2015

Nearer, my god, to thee…

I’m making a lot of assumptions here – mainly because I was born with a brain between my ears (which I still, sometimes, make use of): and therefore do not understand (or grok) what it is to drive without a considerable amount of thought and concentration. (Mind you, in a similar, ahem, vein: you could say that I was also born with a heart behind my sternum: and therefore do not understand what it is to vote Conservative….)

My point of view – and possibly rampant, creative imagination – though, leads me to believe that I have just witnessed the following sequence of events (not for the first time; and certainly not for the last) –
  1. I am driving down the A422, at just under the speed limit – as there is a tractor, roughly a quarter of a mile ahead; and then there are several bends and junctions to be navigated. On the back window of my car, at eye level, is a blue sticker (in the all-familiar Pantone D154873D, in fact), with the words “DISABLED DRIVER” printed on it in white.
  2. Approaching rapidly from behind me (and it is school chucking-out time; and murky), without any form of illumination – maybe the driver does not know where his/her headlight switch is? – at approximately twenty miles per hour over the speed limit – is another vehicle: which proceeds to accelerate to within a few yards of the rear of my vehicle. It then brakes very hard (so that the bonnet dips very noticeably; and then wobbles back up).
  3. I therefore begin to lose even more speed – albeit without, yet, resorting to the brake pedal (which may result in panic: and is therefore a final, er, resort) – which leads to the driver behind me (in full nose-picking, phone-holding, chocolate-eating glory – I think he (in this case) might be driving with some other appendage…) appearing at very close quarters in my internal rearview mirror. (This one is young; and in a car with ridiculous tyres and suspension (I see, later). But morons come in all ages, sizes, and sexes; and all ages and sizes of car, too.)
  4. By this time, we are gaining on the tractor at some speed, even though I am still decelerating, and my right foot is hovering above the brake pedal. (By the way, the tractor – with a large trailer attached – is extremely well lit: including flashing orange beacons on top – which must, even in this gloom, be visible for miles.)
  5. The driver behind me makes several rude gestures (albeit still picking, holding, and eating). Impressive, I think. And I then dab the brake pedal very gently: as we are now within about fifty yards of said tractor/trailer-combo. This results in more gesticulating; and – aha: he’s found a light switch! – flashing of headlamps (which I have to intuit, at first: as I cannot see below the bottom of his windscreen in my interior rearview mirror – however, I can see at least half of his grille in my offside mirror: as he is veering all over the central white line – which is now solid, on our side of the road). What he is using to operate the steering with, I do not know. He is sitting very low and flat, though. Perhaps his seat has collapsed?
  6. Just as the tractor indicates left – and just before a blind left-hand bend – the driver behind me swerves out into the path of an oncoming Land Rover (decked in speckled and striped sticky-back plastic: so obviously going back to Gaydon). I close my eyes; remember I’m an atheist; but pray to God, anyway. I do not want to be a victim of dangerous driving for the fourth time. Neither do I want another six-hour-long operation on my neck. Nor to be paralysed, permanently, this time.
  7. I come to a steady, controlled halt.
  8. This time, the prat behind me was extremely lucky. (Perhaps there is a god of idiots; or of dangerous drivers? (Onan?)) The test vehicle from JLR had seen what was happening; and had slowed down enough, and made room enough, to let him through – now disappearing at some knots in a cloud of blue exhaust smoke. (“You may want to have your oil seals looked at – or your head gasket,” I think: my heart beating faster than Anastasia in Fifty Shades of Grey. (So I am told.)) A few weeks ago, one of his brethren ended up in a ditch, in front of a large lorry. Sorry to report, both I and the lorry driver were laughing, as we shuddered to a halt (mostly from relief, I think).

Now, that was how I experienced it. This is how I think the driver behind me saw it –
  1. Ooh. Red car. Like red cars. Not going fast. How fast?
  2. Ooh. Disabled sticker. This chocolate tastes nice with snot. Is Fred there? Tell him I’m on my way.
  3. Cripples can’t drive fast. Must get past. Speeeeeeed.
  4. I wonder where that orange flashing’s coming from. Mmm, chocolate.
  5. Go faster, you cripple. Mmm, snot.
  6. Aw sod it. Must go fast. Effing scrounger. Put foot down. Powwwweeeeeeer.
  7. What was that speckly-stripey thing?
  8. Faster.
  9. What’s that smoke?
  10. Must go faster. Oh, hello, Fred. Going to be a bit late, got stuck behind an effing cripple.
  11. 90 mph. Wow. Clever boy I am.
  12. Where is that smoke coming from? Funny smell. Blue. Cool colour.

Now, on a day when it was announced that several vehicles had been clocked driving at more than twice the national speed limit, last year, my questions are these –
  1. When was the disabled-only speed limit introduced; and why did no-one tell me about it?
  2. Am I the victim of idiocy (which now seems to be the norm with regards to speed – especially on the A422, and surrounding lanes), or discrimination? (I have the sticker on my car so that people leave me room, when I park – I have a similar one on the driver’s door: as I need a lot of room to get out… – not so that I can be targeted in supposed ‘games’ of dangerous driving. To be honest, people drove the same way when I didn’t have the stickers, though.)
  3. What are you supposed to do when being tailgated at or near the speed limit? (Having recently taken an advanced driving course with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I don’t think there is consensus on this: although advice is to slow down, and let them pass. Some ‘people’ seem to enjoy it, though: so will tailgate you at any speed.)
  4. When did speed limits become targets to be surpassed (like Jobcentre Plus sanctions), rather than maxima?
  5. Have you ever considered that it is you going too fast; and not the driver in front going too slow?
  6. Do you know what the ‘two second rule’ is? And who breaks it?
  7. Do you know what is in front of the car in front of you; or behind you? What do you mean: “What tractor?”
  8. Do you know what the current speed limit is?
  9. When was the last time you read the Highway Code?
  10. Do you think this is funny?
  11. Do you suffer from motor accident-related PTSD?
  12. How much do second-hand tanks cost; and what’s their fuel economy like? What sort of licence do you need to drive them on a public highway; and will they fit in a disabled bay?
  13. As I assume my readership is of above average intelligence (in the way that all drivers – like me – are above average quality), will I ever learn the answers to all these questions?

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