Tuesday, April 01, 2008

On squeaky bum time

On squeaky bum time

Any excuseMy 100 mile drive from Weymouth to Reading of a morning usually presents me with something to write for these pages. I use the two hours to sort out the contents of my brain, and nine times out of ten, something falls out that is suitable for public consumption.

And so, managing a less than respectable 55 mph up the M3 motorway in the early morning rush, I found the answers to three of life's great questions:

1.Have you left enough room between yourself and the car in front?

I swear I wasn't distracted. I was merely de-constructing the words of Kate Bush as she warbled about running up hills and making deals with God, who is a busy deity these days. Why waste the big man's time, I ask myself, when she could get a quad-bike? Or better still – being a girl – a pony. They're excellent at getting up hills, and there's no need to write a song about it.

I wasn't distracted because I noticed the slow-moving lorry pull out to overtake the other slow-moving lorry several hundred yards ahead, causing White Van Man to brake heavily and spin around in an impressive 720-degree skid. Several others thought this would be a great idea, threw out the anchors and pretty soon the East-bound carriageway was littered with cars and vans doing their level best to swap bumpers and headlights.

My own braking was entirely under control, and my shouts of "Shitfuckshitfuckshitfuck I'm-going-to-die shitfuckshitfuck" were purely coincidental as the car glided over the wet concrete roadway towards the van in front, who was, by now, facing me.

I stopped exactly four inches short, where I waved a cheerful 'hello' to the terrified bloke staring back at me.

Answer to Question 1: Yes. Yes I have.

2. What's the last thing you think before you crash your car?

A: "Where can I plant this without it hurting?"

I've survived the Corporation's Hostile Environments and First Aid course, where you are taught how to react when blown up in a minefield or kidnapped by mad foreigns (The answer to both of which being "Try not to die. Think of the paperwork").

I was told by the seen-it-all fire-fighter who ran the course that the majority of car crash victims break their right ankle because it is planted – hard – on the brake at the time of impact. At last, after vowing that I wouldn't be so stupid in the event of an accident, I see his point.

"Pump the pedal", he said, "Pump it."

Crap. I forgot. All you think about is aiming for the least deadly gap and hope the nobody else aiming for the same spot.

Pulling up alongside the chap I narrowly avoided creaming all over the carriageway, because I had - excellently - left enough room between myself and the car in front, I wound down my window.

"You alright?" I asked

An ashen-faced wreck looked back at me: "I shat meself."

Poor sap. I went before I left.

All this on top of advice that I'm supposed to be taking it easy, which brings us on to the third question:

3.What are you supposed to think about when you're meditating?

I hope it's enormous bosoms and/or Kate Bush in a leotard. Otherwise I'm doing it wrong.

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