Saturday, 5 April 2008

The Finest Swordsman In France


I drive assertively
You drive aggressively
She drives dangerously

There's a chap I know who's one of the ten best drivers in the country. I know this because he told me. I'm not sure how he came to be assayed for this ranking; perhaps Stirling Moss came to him in a vision and said, "Hail, Rob, elect among drivers! Take up your Mercedes and drive!"

Perhaps not.

Being a passenger in the car with him driving was a queasy experience; I would sit there rocking .....forwards..... and then backwards..... and then forwards.... as his foot idly pumped down on the accelerator and then eased off again. And so we would proceed, in gentle surges.

Travelling in convoy with him, we would usually look for a lay-by immediately after any major junction, where we could pull over and wait for him, as his internal satnav invariably directed him to take the road less travelled. Differently lost, was Rob.

And one of the ten best drivers in the country.

That's how we came to call him "The Finest Swordsman In France." It kind of suited.

I am properly modest about my driving abilities, but quietly think that I have reasonable co-ordination and look well ahead and anticipate things. If I think that I'm a good driver, though, I certainly won't be admitting it here. I leave it to you to make up your mind about that. And, unless you have ever been a passenger in my car, you have no way of knowing how accurate that opinion is.

Anyway. Last week I have a close encounter. I am emerging from quite a tricky junction; I am turning right from the top of Hampton Road onto Lower Redland Road. It's quite a busy road, and a van has parked stupidly, restricting my view to the right as I reach the junction.

Edge out; all clear. Drive on. A car comes fast around the corner to the right. Keep on, I'm already committed.

The woman in the other car is mouthing at me and slowing down. We stop alongside each other. We wind windows down.

"Slow down!" I shout.

"You should wait there, you stupid bitch," she shouts, pointing at the junction, and begins to drive on.

"Try driving inside the speed limit, you cretin," I shout back.

Katie is looking shocked and upset. I'm upset as well. We talk it through when we get home. I wonder if I could have avoided the incident. I know that I could have handled it differently when it did happen.

Not been called a stupid bitch before, either.