Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Why do parents drive to primary school to pick up their kiddies - do they not have legs, can they not walk etc?

I had planned on venting my (spleen/ire/bemusement) on internet dating. That was the plan. It has to be done. Well, in a sense, it has been done. But I'm leaving that till next time. So that's like one of those trailers for a programme that might sound quite interesting - but is actually on next week - cos now it's time for 'SlugWatch with Bill Oddie'...... yeah - prepare for some tedious blogbased ranting.

I'm in full grumpy autobiographical mode; there will be shouting - I will be metaphorically pointing my finger and possibly banging my fist on the table. I feel it will get unseemly. If this was a blog-pub - the blog-landlord would be eyeing me warily. He might have to throw me out in a minute if I carry on like this. Alternatively, picking on such an easy to mock subject like this one - might get me a job on a tabloid newpaper. Women drivers!!! etc. Truth to be told, they are predominantly women drivers - but not all, and that's hardly the point.

Let me start at the beginning. And then we can better see how I came to scream some unintelligable words as a driver at approximately 3.44pm today. Prepare yourself for some self-indulgent whining - I need to vent. Or alternatively, I'll just get on with it...

The day starts at 5.55am. Blimey it's sunny. My alarm goes off. 3 minutes later my back-up alarm goes off. Yes, I have to be up. I know that because I've spent most of the night thinking about what time I had to get up and have slept for - what seems like less than 7 minutes. Of course it's always hard to tell: in reality I may have slept for 16 minutes or perhaps a little longer. I get up, do some abulting, pick up my pre-packed bag and head off down the road to the bus stop. I don't eat, I don't drink. It's a 20 minute walk, but it's a lovely day. A fateful day. Or in reality, a day lacking in events. I won't be dying today.

I'm heading off to the Royal Infirmary to be operated on. O joy! I arrive at the bus stop and sit there waiting with some other weirdos who are up this early. Some joggers go past: they're slow but they're obviously admirable cos there's no effin way I would ever feel like running at 6.45am - but I guess they get up, they go, they don't think. Being up this early in the morning is all about not thinking. You *Just Do It*.

I get to the hospital I hand over my letter at the reception; the lady checks my details and tells me to go into the waiting area and take a seat. I sit down and start to scan my copy of The Metro, reading about Susan Boyle being a bit bonkers and a baby tiger being befriended by a sausage dog. Waiting for the call. Unusually, it's not a nurse that calls my name but the receptionist lady.

Apparently my operation has been cancelled. Someone more urgent has taken my slot. Oh. Oh. Ummm. Could they not have told me?

Now admittedly I got another letter from the hospital telling me I had an appointment for an operation in 4 weeks. This I assumed was in addition to the operation planned for today... I did phone up and query it, left a message on an answering machine. I didn't speak to a human being, and I didn't phone up repeatedly. Apparently there should have been a letter.

I didn't go ballistic, I mean, what's the point - and I don't want to alienate anyone who might at some stage have the power to decide when I get cut up - but - I mean... it's a little ... unfortunate. And also I'm stupid for not repeatedly phoning up and saying, "Am I really meant to have 2 appointments?" Ummm. I will complain though, for all the good it will do. The secretary concerned I've had previous phone clashes with. Let's call them personality clashes. She seems perpetually bemused and annoyed by filing systems and technology. She says she'll call back and never does. So this time I avoided her and ended up, well, I ended up shaking my head and going home to eat my breakfast and have a bit of a rest.

There's no moral to that story. There is to this next one and it's a simple one: never ever ever cycle between the hours of 3.30pm and 3.50pm in an area where there are schools. And of course I don't normally, but I was around, I was awake, I wasn't recovering from an operation - so I pootled over to a friend's work to give them something. It was the hottest day of the year - just beautiful for some slow, leisurely cycling - except - madness on the roads.

It's something I just hadn't prepared myself for - the sheer mass - the hordes and swarms of cars, parked and abandoned, and blocking the roads around these 2 primary schools. It was horrifying. Not just the kids running out. Not just the car doors thoughtlessly swinging open - drivers jumping out into the road without a care in the world. Not just the cars pulling in and 'parking'. Not just the cars pulling out and cutting me up. I was prepared for that. I'm mature and sensible. I saw the situation. I was riding down the middle of the road at about 7 miles an hour. I had my hands on the brakes. I was prepared to swerve or stop. I was horrified but aware. And it was the same situation at the next primary school on the stupid route I had thoughtlessly chosen.

It was when that log-jam was passed and I had sped up to a steady 12 miles an hour that I did my screaming fit. I'm pootling along - I'm aware of the road - a car cuts in front of me and does a sudden left - forcing me to brake. While I'm looking round and silently swearing - while there's still a yard or two of road to go before I reach the very corner - a second car follows the first and overtakes and turns in the one motion.

I slam on the brakes and roar like a beast as the driver languidly turns left. I am an unseen screaming ghost. I do not matter. I do not exist. I do not have the brain cells to form words. I simply cannot believe it. Where in the highway code does it say you can cut across me like that? I simply don't believe that half the people on this road- and this driver in particular - have ever passed their driving test. It's not like I was darting off the pavement or hidden behind parked cars...

It's not worth pursuing the point. These people clearly only ever drive twice a day - to do the school run: they drop off the kids - then they pick em up later. And they think about nothing when they are driving - they think about no one else. I could go on but my words at the time say it all: aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggggrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Primary schools have catchment areas of a mile and a half at most. I passed 2 in a 15 minute bike ride. It's the hottest day of the year - what better excuse to, y'know, walk? It's a mile and a half at most, people. You simply don't need to drive. Walk, stop off on the way home and buy an ice lolly.

If you're on your way to work in the morning and you're late - you have an excuse - but these people were not coming or going from work - it's just habit. It's just lazyitis - and the ineptitude and lack of care of the drivers is just dangerous.

So those were my highlights of the day. How exciting is my life!!!? Start the day with worry about possible operation related pain and mortality - almost get involved in a slow-motion traffic accident - then end the day wearily blogging about it.

A thousand apologies. I really must return to the lol-tastic world of internet dating. I can imagine going on a date and telling these stories... yeah, she says she's going to the toilet - but why has she taken her coat? It's been about half an hour now, is she gonna come back, d'you think?