Who are the most dangerous road-users in the UK (the UK at least)?
Boy racers in pimped Vauxhall Astras?
Ditzy lasses in Renault Clios twittering about One Direction?
It’s the crumblies. Oh, and the lycra-clad kamikazes that call themselves “cyclists” deserve an dishonourable mention too. The small burg I live in is wick with the buggers. I have had to leap into gutters to avoid them on occasion whizzing down the hills at the speed of heat*. I’m fairly sure on one occasion it was Barney Storey who almost made me a paralympic competitor as well. Equestrian types (other than their on-road “deposits”) are fine. But even cyclists pale in comparison to the biddies and codgers sucking their Werther’s Originals, through their falsies, hunched over the tiller of the Panzerkampfwagen XI (aka Nissan Micra) and Panzerkampfwagen XII (aka Honda Jazz). I doubt they have globally killed more than the Wehrmacht but if frustration, annoyance and minor bumps are “liitle deaths” then the aggregated toll…
You think I’m being unfair? Geriatricist? You ought to see them doing their “slow and steady” on the M6. You probably have. And no, it ain’t just the Micra and Jazz, there is also the “last of the hold-outs” in the Olde Worlde boxy Rover 214s with the driving gloves clutching the wheel like the icy fingers of death. They clamp the middle-lane like honey badgers on a treacled scrotum. You will have gone past them making their stately progress at a maximum of 60-65mph when every other bugger is doing 80mph+
And you just know that if the codger at the wheel pushes the speedo dial a merest hint above 65mph there shall be a repeated hand-bagging accompanied with the admonishment, “You’re not Stirling Moss, you know!” whilst the motor swerves randomly across three lanes as Mrs Biddie makes a grab for the steering wheel. My wife and I were once trapped on a 60mph limit road in the Lakes behind a horseless Micra with a full load of the most bidulent doing 25. Hell’s teeth they might as well of had a daft sod waving a red-flag in front of them. I could smell the exhaust. It smelt of shortbread with high-notes of Kendal mint cake and Sterodent. It’s like those folks who thought you’d asphyxiate on Stephenson’s rocket when it hit 20 mph.
So that is whilst driving. But the biddies and codgers also excel at parking. Not just any parking. Oh no. Within days of my wife getting the current Corsa some biddie managed to scratch it in her Jazz performing an act of parking of such epic crapularity as to beggar belief. But no! What really beggared belief was her denial of culpability in the face of not only the Highway Code but the basic laws of mechanics as outlined by Sir Issac Newton in the Principia Mathematica. Every Sunday I used to have to play car marshall. It’s got better since I got “lion tamer” on their crumpled asses. Apart from anything else it’s the thoughtless blocking-in not just of us but of the neighbours too. I’m a warden of a religious meeting house (Quaker) and part of my duties include maintaining cordial relations with the neighbours. Well, I say that but it’s just good manners really. The same ageing moo (by which I don’t mean destined for MacDonalds but for a dodgy halal burger gaff in Gorton**) “young-manned” me over her horrendous parking. Put it this way, if she’d been a USN Hornet pilot she’d have put it down not just off the wire, not just off the deck but in the wrong ocean. It was parking of the most piss-poor standard I’ve ever seen and utterly dangerous so this “young man” (I must’ve been about 36 at the time!) guided her into the bay. Any thanks? Yeah right! And at the time I didn’t know she’d scratched my wife’s Corsa otherwise…
In any case that particular parking bay is directly opposite a house with a blind driveway onto the street. The folk who live there have a Range Rover. Unless a car parked in the bay is neatly tucked in (and the venerable Micra and Jazz jockeys don’t do that – unless I’m playing tick-tack man) leaving them projecting into the single lane er, lane) the Range Rover will go straight through it and down the bank and into the stream. Yes! We have posh 4x4s and streams round this neck of the woods. Welcome to Cheshire!
Of course nothing compares to the driving (or roads) on Malta. Nothing. Having said that the bus service was excellent and cheap and the old buses really cool. They did though have “private” decoration such as, “If you want to know the truth about the afterlife, try overtaking me.” Maltese bus-drivers look and act like something out of Top Gun. Well they did when I was there a few years back… It was kinda cool and dead handy.
Though I’m not sure if the emphasis ought to be on the “dead” or the “handy”.
I really liked Malta. And I’d rather have an affordable, well-organised bus system driven by lotharios in aviator shades with ante-deluvian buses and “nose-art” to put US Army’s 8th Airforce to shame than the drivel we have round here. Actually it ain’t too bad round here compared to other gaffs in the country. Perhaps dear Dr Beeching put his coffee mug down on East Cheshire/South-East Manchester and forget. A small point here is worth making. I had a pint of something Czech in the local wine bar yesterday (I said it was Cheshire so obviously I’m stumblin’ distance from a wine bar – not a wet or cooked monger of fish but at least three tapas gaffs – for shame! ) and I overheard two lasses (one of whom had a boyf down London way). Now I don’t normally earwig but this was dynamite. By which I mean not so much the respect for privacy but my respect for not really caring but the lass with the squeeze in London opined that it is two hours from here to London on Virgin Pendolino. What she said subsequently (her boy doesn’t live directly opposite Euston station, natch, byt was like balm to me. Precisely! If they really want to make rail more attractive screw shaving a few minutes off the “headline” route times but spend that GBP80bn on a truly integrated network – or better yet let the market decide.
Of course I was wrong. It ain’t the biddies and codgers that are the greatest menace to transport (though they are a menace) but the government who just love big schemes when what really matters is the integration and not the “headline figures” between London, Euston and Birmingham New Street or Manchester Piccadilly but the actual door-to-door times.
*USAF slang for as fast as possible – technically being any speed between that of sound and that of light. Usually used in the context of egressing a particularly tricky situation.
**Gorton Girls know all the words to songs by Chaka Khan. I used to live in Levenshulme. I’ll give it a thumbs-up mind for Aria Tech - where I still get my stuff. It is a true den of geek set-up on a shoe-string and a hope by a refugee from Iran. And Levy isn’t that bad.
Big schemes when what really matters is the integration and not the “headline figures” between London, Euston and Birmingham New Street or Manchester Piccadilly but the actual door-to-door times.