Monday 22 December 2008


In as much as I abhor the way soap thespians exaggeratedly suck their fingertips after eating toast, and get infuriated by people who peel oranges on public transport, I am equally incensed when driving down a narrow country lane and I encounter a woman driver coming the other way.

After skidding and braking abruptly, inevitably, she will go into a state of shock, almost catatonic. And there she will remain, frozen in her seat like a wild rabbit caught in a hunter’s flashlight, and then a stand off staring contest begins.

Even if there was a widening of the road just twenty yards behind her car, it remains for me as usual, to reverse the one mile backwards to the village I have just left in order for her to pass. And as she does, she offers no wave of thanks, no smile of appreciation or mouthing of thankyou. Just the same dormant ‘look ahead’ expression that I acknowledge every time I hold a door open for a woman carrying shopping.

By the time I arrive at the supermarket only three miles away, I am red faced, pumping, and spitting profanities like Sir Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast because my journey has been prolonged by an extra two miles driving backwards.

Escape and evasion driving techniques once learned prior to deployment to Belfast, have at least proved more useful to me today living in the countryside than they did in the Falls Road in 1981. But at least then, the Provo’s always acknowledged me with a stiff finger.

The point of me writing this, other than to declare my frustration, is to solicit all driving instructors to consider educating women that a reverse gear on any vehicle has another application other than manoeuvring into a parking space. And conceivably on their final driving test they could be asked to turn down a narrow lane where unknown to them, one mile further on, the test examiner is thundering the opposite way, in a battle tank.

Consequently, I have decided to sell my car and buy a pair of roller skates. I have calculated the money saved in fuel together with the time conserved, I will be far happier, more affluent and probably add an extra ten years to my life.