It’s Been A Long Time

It has been a long time since I’d just scribbled some notes down of random observations. It used to be a regular thing when on my way to my Saturday morning writing group. It isn’t a Saturday, but a Wednesday, but I was on my way to a writing group.

On the way I was walking over the metal footbridge near Crawley railway station. I’m nearing the town side of the bridge, and I can see there is an older man starting to come up the stairs. On the metal frame of the bridge is a squirrel, which seeing the man coming up the steps has turned and scampered up the frame in my direction. Only to see me walking towards it and turn around and head back down. But the other man is still coming up so there is a split second of panic from the squirrel as there are humans approaching it from both directions. It decides to take the ‘fuck it’ option and jumps off the side of the bridge down onto the pile of rubbish and debris in the car park below. It would rather jump to a possible injury or death rather than pass a human. I saw it land without an issue and then rush across the open ground and up the nearest tree.

Despite having headphones in, I hadn’t got the music playing and so as I sat on the stools looking out the window of Maccy D’s I heard someone make a comment. “I’ve never seen so many bus stops all together, it’s mad innit?” The window looks out onto the bus station. I think it must be a child saying this, but I turn my head slightly and no, it’s a woman in her twenties talking to a similarly aged friend. How did they manage to get to that age and have never seen a working bus station before? Is it their first ever visit to a reasonably sized town? It beggars’ belief how sheltered some people must be in life.

Going into HMV is a regular occurrence for me, and it is up on the first floor. Getting up there on the escalator is fine, but the last two visits have seen issues with the down escalator, which isn’t currently working. It is a strange sensation having to walk down a non-moving escalator. It just feels awkward. The steps are deeper than the ones on a staircase usually are. There is also that little nagging voice in the back of my head saying that the escalator may start up again whilst I’m walking down it. and the exaggerated steps aren’t good for my knees. It seems a longer trek down than if the escalators had been working. (When I go past two days later neither escalator is working and it is causing some people problems, I saw two twenty something year old blokes trip and stumble up the first few steps as they tried to walk up the non-moving escalator.)

On Thursday it was another writing group, this one being the Horsham one. I do tend to hate the drive from the Hove office to Horsham for this. Mainly because the most direct route involves getting off the A27 at the long looping exit to the Shoreham roundabout and then up the A283 to cut the corner to the A24 at Washington. It’s a wide enough road, but it is twisty and busy. Most of it is national speed limit, but I don’t feel comfortable trying to do sixty around some of the twists and usually tootle along doing just over fifty. A bit slower also helps with the pothole avoidance. But others never seem satisfied with doing fifty, and a queue can build up behind me and there always seems to be a work van (of any colour, not just white) inches from my rear bumper. But I won’t be pressured into going faster, but something so close behind me does stress me out even more than driving usually does. And the last few journeys have been done at night, which have meant that there is the additional hazard of approaching cars with new LED headlights searing the inside of my corneas out. I hadn’t made the trip for a couple of months. I missed the March meeting, and in February I was on automatic pilot, and I was passing Hickstead on the A23 on my usual route to home when I remembered I was supposed to be at writing and then cut across at the A272 through Cowfold (how does one fold a cow again?) But last night’s trip was better than usual. It was daylight (so no bright headlights, but I still hate the route in the light), and there was someone at least half a dozen vehicles in front of me who was keeping to fifty and under all the way along, so it was a comfortable journey, and as I wasn’t at the front of the queue, none of the three different vans that were behind me on that stretch felt the need to drive along in my boot.

Eurgh Driving

Driving has been entertaining over the last week and a half. It started pre storms last Wednesday morning with a multiple car shunt at the Pyecombe junction on the southbound A23. The traffic had come to a near standstill just before I got there, and there was a police car flashing its blue lights parked in the outside lane just under the footbridge. Just beyond it was the first involved vehicle; a mini pointing the wrong way in the outside lane.

Then on the layby a car had gone over the plastic bollards and in the side of a parked Co-op lorry. Two more cars and a van were lined up on the inside with varying degrees of damage. Then there was a gap to another car which had been side swiped and had what looked like frosted glass on the driver’s side. Then the final crashed car was in the outside lane stuck in the barrier.

I had been out extra early that morning and so wasn’t delayed by much, but as each member of my team came into the office the time taken to get through that junction had increased, and for one, their sat-nav had sent them over Ditchling Beacon instead.

The main surprise is that this doesn’t happen more often. That junction is like the Wacky Races. Too fast, too close, switching lanes as if Mike Read is screaming “Runaround” at them, and of course, not an indicator in use for miles around in every direction.

If I believed there were such things as imaginary cloud gods, then I would be tempted to say a prayer each time I approached the junction each morning.

Sunday. I was going to pick up Helen’s mum from Storrington and was heading around the outside of Horsham, just getting to the terrible Tesco at Broadbridge Heath when I became embroiled in another Wacky Races day. More than a dozen souped up German shitheaps came flying past on all sides, changing lanes without any hint of using mirrors or indicators; racing each other and being dicks to all other road users.

For some reason they had all pulled into the Shell garage at the far side of Horsham, and as I passed, I could hear them all revving up, so once past that roundabout I stopped in the first layby and rang the police (who didn’t seem to give a shit). Because I’m a twat like that.

The lights were out at the A24/A272 junction, which meant fun and games for all as without the lights working it seemed as if everyone had forgotten the rules of who has right of way at a major junction. By the time I was coming back from dropping Helen’s mum off at night the lights still weren’t working. In addition, the rain and wind were closing in.

What I don’t understand is why people find it necessary to try and drive in my boot. I’m only going 50, because it’s a sensible speed in the weather conditions, and the bouts of aquaplaning every half a mile or so due to all the surface water. It’s dual carriageway all the way. If you don’t like the speed I’m driving at, then please feel free to fuck off into the outside lane and overtake me. I’m not going to go faster because you want to be in my car with me.

Then for the last week the road I usually take once I come off the A27 to get to work has been closed three out of four mornings. They are resurfacing the road on the hill down towards Hangleton windmill. They are supposed to be finished at 7am, and annoyingly the road is open for those coming out of Hove, but I’ve had to get back on the A27 and come off at the next junction as I don’t know how to get across to the office if I go down the road their diversion signs are pointing along.

Thursday morning was the worst. It was chaos all round. No sooner had I got onto the A23 than the traffic came to a grinding halt. Turns out a truck had broken down in the inside lane between the turn off for Handcross and the services there. And as usual, no one could cope with the letting people in thing when it went from three lanes to two.

Getting off the A27 was fun. I came off at the usual junction, but the roundabout was gridlock as the road to Hove was closed. I made it around and back onto the A27, but the queue to come off at the next junction started where I came on. The queue carried on all the way off the A27 and down to Sainsbury’s. And once past there, the left turn towards the office was closed off as well, so I had to go right and then follow the road around the one-way system to come back towards the office. Only for the road that runs parallel to it to have resurfacing work as well, and the first five side roads I would usually turn up were all closed. What is usually half an hour took an hour and a quarter and was an extra five miles.

Friday night isn’t normally that bad, but all I’d seen all day when flicking in and out of social media were messages about long queues at petrol stations, and some running out of fuel. And yes, upon leaving work there were big queues at the two petrol stations I passed in Hove. So, I ended up stopping at the Texaco one on the A23 after Pyecombe as it was empty. I was nearly on fumes and couldn’t risk having to drive around Crawley trying to fill up over the weekend.

Even so, they were out of diesel, but they did have petrol and I was able to fill up and then I took my life in my hands trying to get back on the A23 there, as that stretch is one that everyone treats as if it is the downslope of Eau Rouge at Spa.

So, the panic buying has started. It never ceases to amaze me at the moronic behaviour. As, to be honest, having a fuel shortage is going to be the least of our worries if the Ukraine situation worsens. No one needs to drive when we’re all hiding in nuclear shelters.

Why Do Most Drivers See You Next Tuesday?

Other things that drive me mad – the driving edition.

I’ve done a lot of driving over the last couple of weeks, with long journeys up and around and back from the Midlands, and then three days a week commuting to Hove. I’ve come to the conclusion that ninety percent of all drivers are cunts. There are a lot of reasons for this, but some high-level reasons are below.

Indicators. They aren’t just there to fill a gap in the lines of your vehicle. They aren’t only for Christmas. They are there so that I don’t have to use the fucking force and guess what particular spectacular fuckwittery effort of driving you’re going to pull out of your arse next. Give me, and all other road users a fucking clue. Especially if you’re in the wrong fucking lane to begin with.

Lane hoggery. What the fuck are you doing in the middle or outer lane. Seriously, who the fuck are you overtaking out there. If I’m doing sixty on the inside lane and undertaking you, it’s not me who’s the issue. Don’t gesticulate or beep your horns. If I’m doing sixty and undertaking you, it means you’re doing less than sixty. So, what the fuck are you doing out there in the middle lane or outer lane? Left hand lane at all times, other lanes for overtaking only. For fuck’s sake people, the Highway Code isn’t a sequel by Dan Brown.

Cutting into my stopping space. Obviously without indicating. I leave a decent space between myself and the vehicle in front so there is time and room for me to stop safely (something the boot drivers will never have heard of). It’s not an open invitation for twats to jump into that space. Plus, if you’ve been doing seventy or eighty to overtake me, why once you’re in that stopping space do you feel the sudden need to slam the brakes on and go at fifty. Just stop it you cunts.

Completing overtaking manoeuvres. Again, lack of care about the Highway Code, or perhaps you were taught to drive by Stevie Wonder, but have you fuckers never heard of “mirror, signal, manoeuvre”? It would appear none of you bother with the first two. You certainly aren’t looking in your mirrors, and I’ve already covered the lack of indication. But if you are taking the paint off the right-hand front bumper of my car as you pull back in after overtaking me then you are far too fucking close. At that point you can’t even see me in your wing mirror, let alone the rear view one as you’re supposed to.

Driving in my boot. Stop it your clown outfit wearing morons. There is no need for you to be two millimetres from my back bumper, there is no one in the middle or outer lane, fuck off out there and overtake. I’m not going to go any faster because you’re an impatient twat. In fact, I’m more inclined to slow down.

Flashing me. No, I’m not going to go any faster. There is a speed limit. One that I will stick to. If you want to go faster fuck off and find a different route. See driving in my boot. Flashing me is an indication you want me to drive even slower.