Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Here in my car, I feel safest of all

Jo is learning to drive, so that we won't be helpless on future visits to America, but also so we can go for adventures in the countryside here (preferably involving ham sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer). Why am I not learning to drive, too? Because I'm an absent minded, unobservant, daydreaming buffoon, and don't tend to notice things like traffic lights, signposts, pedestrians... I'd mow down about twenty pensioners before I realised I was even on the pavement. Also, because ads like this used to scare me as a kid - if I make a mistake, how do I know a giant hand won't actually come out of the sky to take me away?

Anyway. The Highway Code is proving to be a great source of amusement to us, because of all the common sense rules and guidelines that they really shouldn't need to say. The best one so far, is this, taken from the print version, but also available on the online version (Rules for pedestrians, section 4):

Young children should not be out alone on the pavement or road (see Rule 7). When taking children out, keep between them and the traffic and hold their hands firmly. Strap very young children into push-chairs or use reins. When pushing a young child in a buggy, do not push the buggy into the road when checking to see if it is clear to cross, particularly from between parked vehicles.

Noooooo, Chav Sleeper, noooooo!

There you go, I'm a good person, I wasn't deliberately killing a baby, I just hadn't read my Highway Code. Although... it doesn't say you can't just let the buggy trundle into traffic while walking away. So I'm probably okay.

By the way, just to remind cyclists: it is AGAINST THE FUCKING LAW to cycle on the pavement. Look, section 64:

You MUST NOT cycle on a pavement.
[Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129]


See? Capital letters and everything, in the book it's even printed in red. Which is why I shout at cyclists when I see them doing it, but also partly because several twats have nearly knocked me over, on the pavement, where it is ILLEGAL for them to be. Oh, and by the way, a red traffic light means stop, some of you don't seem to understand that, and I have again nearly been hit by cyclists suddenly appearing from between cars and casually zooming through a red light as I'm using a crossing. Next time, I won't dodge you, and will throw myself under your front wheel, hopefully sending you flying over your handlebars to smash your stupid face in. Thank you.

And yes, I am aware there are stupid drivers, stupid pedestrians, and perfectly well behaved cyclists. I'm not talking about those right now, neither am I talking about, for example, giraffes, astronauts, or baked beans. Just thought I'd clear that up.

19 comments:

amandaa1rose said...

Dude, when I see you ranting, I know all is well with the world.

I leave for Montreal on Friday, so I'll be jetlagged upon my return the following weekend. Joy.

Jason Arnopp said...

Writers hardly ever drive, in my experience. Must be a left-brain/right-brain/brain-up-in-the-fucking-clouds type deal.

Certainly, in two decades of journalism, I've met very few hacks who know a clutch from an accelerator. It's always the photographers who drive - possibly because they've got so much stuff to ferry around. Of course, they get their own back when they earn five times as much as journos do...

Ruth Newman said...

Nearly got run into a cyclist once who came out from behind a bus at a red light as I was crossing the road, and you know what? The fucker STUCK HIS TONGUE OUT AT ME as he went past! The problem is, if you yell "learn the Highway Code you motherfucking arsehole!" after them, you get fellow pedestrians looking at you as though you're mental for a good five minutes as you continue plodding nervously along your course, whereas he's already half a mile down the road.

Phill Barron said...

You should learn to drive, it's great. You can pretend your car is a spaceship and the buttons fire missiles and ... um ... not that I do that, I've just heard that's what some people do. Maybe.

Sad people, obviously. Losers.

If you find yourself plagued by annoying cyclists, why not carry a metal rod and a stapler? Simply jam the metal rod between the spokes of the front wheel and while the offending cyclist is looking for his teeth, staple a laminated copy of the relevant highway code page to his face.

Phill Barron said...

Oh and as a new father I have done that buggy thing. The problem is, you forget you're pushing something and don't allow space for it. I've had to stop Mandy doing it too.

People are generally stupid and need legislating against.

Dozeymagz said...

I LOATH driving - for exactly the same reasons you state!
I try to get out of it as often as possible.
In fact, the other day it was pointed out to me that there was in fact moss and lichen growing on the driver's door just under the mirror thingy.

Now, if I had a nice shiney SUV with sexy blue lights on it, I may be persuaded to go out a bit more :)

Can you fix it for me to get one Jim?

Adaddinsane said...

I love driving, I drive fast and the last accident I had was over 20 years ago! I write. It's all wrong.

Here in Reading lots of cyclist cycle on the pavement. Even when it's completely unnecessary, i.e. the road has virtually no traffic on it. Which is particularly annoying.

Then again it should probably be pointed out that The Highway Code is not actually "the Law". It's more guidelines BUT if you cause an accident by breaking the guidelines they then have the effect of being Law.

So they can ride on the pavement all they want with impunity -- until they cause an accident.

Then again apparently I'm the only writer who drives, so I'm clearly talking to myself.

I'll get my coat.

Jodie said...

Adaddinsane: The Highway Code itself may not be the law but many of the rules are actually legal requirements and if you break them you are committing a criminal offence. These are marked in the Code as MUST/MUST NOT (and that's in red in the book too) and have a note of the relevant legislation.

One of the things that cyclists MUST NOT do is cycle on a pavement...

DavidM said...

Cars are shit.

Jayne said...

I've been knocked down twice in the last 6 months by cycle couriers turning illegally into the one way street next to where I work. Bastards. On the other hand, if they'd been cars I'd be dead. Swings. Roundabouts.

soulmining said...

Anything to sneak a Gary Numan reference in, eh James?

I used to drive when I needed a car to commute to work, but since I moved into the city centre and ditched my car five years ago I haven't missed it one bit.

*Some* cyclists seem to think they're immune from the law... I have to say it always makes me smile when I see one getting ticked off by a policeman for blatantly ignoring the one-way signs on my walk to work.

Chuck said...

If you are planning on having Jo drive in the US (LA for example) you and Jo should go somewhere a little less crazy to practice driving on the right side first. You really would not want to try that on a holiday. Some of friends from Austrailia just don't drive when they come here. And when I have been over there, even for a week or two as a passenger I get confused enough that I know I would to F something up if i were driving.

Chuck said...

Almost forgot, What's a Chav?

Michelle Goode said...

I never before thought there may be a connection between those that don't drive and their being writers... Now it all makes sense!

Although the lack-of-money factor played a big part, I am actually scared to learn to drive because no matter how hard I try, I cannot locate my internal GPS. Heck, even if a driver asks me for directions in my own home town (where I have lived my entire 22 years) I have to say "Sorry, I can't help you, I don't live here". And the reason? I daydream. Whether I'm walking with others or in another's car, I can't for five minutes concentrate on where we're going. I'm more likely to be staring at the ground/out of the side window pondering something or other.

I will be learning to drive upon my return to the UK in January, though, because in order to better my career and be independent, I simply have to learn. But, in all honesty, I'd happily be the dosile passanger for the rest of my days...

James Moran said...

Ruth: Oh, that ship sailed long ago for me, I have resigned myself to being the mad, shouty bloke that everyone stares at...

Phill: It's okay, they're babies, they can bounce and stuff.

Jodie: I fancy you.

Hannah B said...

On the Cally Road, in London Town, I've nearly been knocked over by a bike on the pavement. A MOTORbike. And it came from behind...

Stay safe, kids. It's a right jungle out there.

John Soanes said...

When I was growing up, cycling on the pavement over a certain age (let's say 10) was seen as a bit babyish and soft, really. Ah, how things change... though not for the better, I fear.
J

Mikey said...

I can't drive/won't drive.

AND I get cross with pavement cyclists.

Are we by any chance related?

Nicole said...

Wow road rage and your not even driving. Good job :D

And being a stupid cyclist must be a universal thing as I am in America and have come across my fair share of ignorant ones as well.