I like to think that, for a bird, I’m a pretty good driver.
My first car was a mark one Golf GTi, and I’ve driven them ever since. I like the speed, the safety, the looks and the park-ability of these iconic little motors and I can’t honestly see myself giving up my mark-five, 200 bhp, garish red, dream-machine without a fight.
Sorry, did I say fight? What I mean is, you’ll have to pry the keys out of my cold, dead, lifeless fingers.
I like Top Gear, I like cars and I really, really enjoy driving them.
A condition that has, on at least five occasions this very week, caused me to shout “Don’t bloody mention it” at the top of my voice leaving Annabelle ‘scootching’ down in her seat, covering her ears and muttering things like: “Mum, please don’t ram that woman’s car.”
My road using brethren have stopped bothering to thank me for letting them in, letting them out and several other variations on the theme.
Why is this?
What’s causing this corrosive deterioration of engine-ettiquette?
While mere manners have never been a statutory directive on the road, I have always been led to understand that they were an implied responsibility, serving to make our roads a nicer place to be.
Stuff like waiting patiently when a car is heading towards you, in your lane because there’s a car parked in theirs.
Kindly slowing down and flashing your headlights to allow cars to move out in front of you on the motorway.
Thoughtfully moving into the fast-lane to allow cars to merge with the dual-carriageway from a slip road.
The ‘one-driver-one-car’ rule that politely urges everybody in a traffic-jam to allow at least one person to nudge their way into the queue from a side road.
Not only are fewer and fewer people bothering to follow these unwritten rules but, and far more seriously in my opinion, there are a growing number of people who can’t even be bothered to raise the traditional hand and say thank you when you do take the time to remember that courtesy doesn’t cost anything.
Murderous rage doesn’t begin to express how vexed I become when I, like a total mug, sit there as some bloke ignores the fact that I’ve actually stopped to let him out of his parking space voluntarily and wheel-spins away without bothering to so much as look in my direction, let alone going to the effort of turning his arrogant frown upside down and acknowledge my patiently waiting existence.
Then there are the twenty-something-airhead-bimbos in their teeny-tiny hatchbacks that attack the road and all of the other people using it, as if they’re competing at a NASCAR rally.
They take no prisoners, no notice of the brake pedal and have only a dim recollection that their driving instructor ever mentioned that they are supposed to stay at least three inches away from the car in front of them.
They zip up behind you in third gear and with their engine screaming in agony, sit on your tail staring threateningly and unnervingly straight into your rear-view mirror until they see an opportunity to gaily stuff their vehicle into an even lower gear and, smoke pouring from their bonnets and tyres, shudder past you.
It is generally when they are just about level with you, on a hill, with you purring along at sixty miles an hour that it dawns on them that, unlike you, their little Renault only has a one litre engine and that they’re probably not actually going to manage to get past you before that articulated lorry that’s currently bearing down on them actually hits.
Leaning determinedly forward in their seats, chewing gum and peering aggressively through the spokes of their steering wheel, they simply refuse to just give up, accept they’re beat and slip back in behind you.
Nope, they were told by their hot-wiring, joy-riding, excellent influence of an older brother and his drug-dealing mates ‘off the estate’ that the art of getting from A to B is all about relying on your air-bags and your accelerator, and letting Lady-Luck handle the rest.
So this leaves you in an awkward situation, do you let the daft tart lay in her bed the way she made it and watch her vanity-plated, brand-new Citroën Saxo get flattened underneath an Eddie Stobbart lorry, or do you do the decent thing, exercise some self-control and maturity, brake and let her tuck in ahead of you?
We all know that there is obviously a clear answer to this conundrum, but my rational head tells me that it wouldn’t be fair to do that to an innocently, minding-his-own-business lorry driver, so it’s probably best, on balance, to brake.
Yep, it’s rough going out there on the roads these days and so I’m going to issue a warning, in print, to ignorant pig-people everywhere.
Next time I let you out, say thank you because my little Golf also has air-bags and I’m not at all afraid to use them either.