By Anna Trevelyan
As train season ticket prices are utterly ludicrous nowadays (£4,800 per year, standing up and squeezed in with a load of equally cross people who seem to enjoy huffing and farting over you) I now drive to and from work. It takes half the time, it costs almost 1/3 less and nobody has to hear me singing.
It isn’t, however, without its problems. I am writing this blog in the hope that I’m not alone in experiencing such driving issues; now that plenty of well-meaning people who would like to take public transport have also now been priced out of the eco market. (I can console myself with the fact that the only huffing I now have to experience is my own – or, possibly, my local mechanic’s after he hears about this.)
The road is rife with idiots (me included). People behave particularly poorly when driving. Especially on roundabouts. With everything that’s going on around you it’s not always easy to get a good look at the bad driver who cuts you up or blocks your lane by jumping the lights. I recently wound down the window and accidentally called a very senior person at my company a ‘choice’ word on a roundabout and have had to keep a very low profile every since. Tinted windows really shouldn’t be allowed, and I’m just one middle-lane-hogger away from digging out my old Highway Code copy to wave out the sun roof at specific idiots.
Multi tasking. It’s a fact that I will spend most of my commute in traffic. It gets quite boring, so I try and multi-task when I’m in a long jam. However, when trying to attach a large dangly earring the other day the traffic suddenly sped up and I dropped it down the steering column. (I am too embarrassed to get someone to try and fish it out but I do worry that one day I won’t be able to turn left or something due to a sparkly blockage somewhere important.)
Hidden damage. I’m usually quite a careful driver but I dread to think what the underside of my car looks like. I regularly get ‘beached’ on one of the old tree stumps when reversing out of our front driveway. It’s highly embarrassing as it draws quite a crowd, but I have never dared peek underneath at what may be lurking (or missing).
Low bushes should be banned. Not only did I upset my friend’s mum by parking over her (very) low topiary display, I have a suspicion that it may have implanted something into my exhaust, as it has been making a funny noise ever since. Again, not something I am willing to bring up at the local garage as they already think me fairly ridiculous (and we all know that ridiculous people will be charged much more money).
Suspicious smells. Speaking of ridiculous, I have a constant underlying worry that my car has sprung a fuel or oil leak. On the M3 the other day I had to pull over on the hard shoulder as I could smell a really strong fumey whiff. (Hard shoulders, by the way, are disgusting. There were actual poos glittering in the morning light and littered with broken glass. Ugh.) Upon closer inspection, the car seemed fine. It dawned on me that it was actually my perfume. The moral of this story? Don’t wear too much perfume in the car and DEFINITELY avoid the hard shoulder unless you have a strong stomach.
Blind-spot bind. I now know not to wear scarves in the car, no matter how cold it is. There is a very real risk that you could get your earring caught in your neckwear when checking your blind spot, forcing you to complete the rest of the journey with your head at a very weird angle. You have been warned.
Debris danger. Nowadays I try to keep my car (relatively) clean of detritus. I had a narrow escape once with a Diet Coke can preventing some fairly important braking, plus a bursting balloon in the back once forced me to mount the curb and my brother once “lost” an eel in the car following an eventful fishing trip. Not only do you not want to spend every journey terrified that something might pop up and give you a nip, but it also avoids embarrassment (and unwanted whiffs) when someone else gets in.
Assist the authorities. I used to always keep post-its and pens in my car to note down the car details of absolutely ridiculous drivers (we’re talking maniacs almost knocking over grannies, not innocent topiary destroyers). Sadly my husband and close friends now refuse to assist in this important vigilante act so I am pondering GoPro video headgear like those motorcyclists have. Watch out, local white van man.
Tailgating trauma. I absolutely despise tailgaters. They deserve to have their Christmas cancelled forever. Therefore, I am designing my own rear window sticker:
(It was, originally, ‘stay 2 seconds back or you’ll break your crack!‘ but sadly this injury couldn’t be guaranteed.)
My other plans to deter tailgaters are to exercise my use of the fog light, and to passively-aggressively tilt my window washers to aim at the car behind. (It works, but it does mean the rank bird poo stays firmly on my windscreen until the next rain storm.)
I, for one, cannot wait until driverless cars. It will reduce a whole heap of palava. Please hurry up, Google, and bring them out. My earrings, my boss and my fellow passengers will truly thank you for it.