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?


  1. My wife picks our granddaughter up from school on the way home from work. If she has time she brings the car back and then walks.

    Not many seem to do that. Great blubbery whales ooze out of some of these cars to pick up incongruously skinny kids. Some of these mothers probably couldn't walk without injury now.

    I try to avoid mothers and kids in a car. Not just at chool chucking out time but shopping too; I've had my car scratched by a mother wielding kiddy and trolly. Not easy I know but they do seem to behave as though no-one else exists.

    It's not just laziness though. It's the fear of the paedo that drives some of it. Kids are kept on too tight a rein today out of fear.

    And one last point to balance it a little. The roads are busier now. For a child to travel hom on foot with or without an adult does involve walking aling busy roads with the fumes and the rest.

  2. My children went to infant and primary schools of MY choice, they didn't attend the nearest one to home, which was within walking distance, they attended schools which were at least three miles from home.
    I had jobs, so I would take them in the car on my way to and from work.
    That's my excuse!

    I have seen some horrendous near-accidents caused not by parents picking up their offspring, but of other drivers, who knew they were passing a school, and drove like maniacs tearing up the road and causing people to run back onto the pavement or be mown down.

    In crossing over to get to school, we took our lives and those of our children into our own hands. The crossing lady was no help either, the drivers just hooted at her or drove around her!

    I do sympathise with you, but there are other sides to stories/real lives involved.
    S x

  3. I had an appointment for an operation at my local hospital. I had the letter. I booked time off work, and starved myself the night before.
    Arrangements were made for the care of my children, and I booked a taxi to take me to hospital.

    When I got there, the appointment had been cancelled. The ward had been closed down due to some infection, and I was sent home.

    "You should have got a letter" they said.
    "I didn't" I said.

    The ward had been closed down for over a week, so they knew well in advance they could not accommodate me. I was so cross, not because of the operation, but because of the inconvenience to my family/job/stomach!

  4. I will not drive to school unless I'm coming from far away and don't have time to drop the car off, or on one occasion when one son was too ill to walk so I took the car to pick up the other. I drive to the park on wednesdays because it's a fair walk that the boys can't manage the additional walk on top of the two hours walk of "nursery in the park". Normal days, we walk in any weather.

    The difference in traffic everywhere during the holidays shows just how many people drive to school.

    Many people, like Sarah, have to because it's too far. Schools should be within walking distance of the catchment area, and it should be compulsory to attend them. Then there wouldn't be the same discrepancy between good and bad schools because there'd be a mix in all schools. The current situation of what school your child goes to is ridiculous, and it is not the fault of the parents.

    Having said that, there are many people who are too damned lazy to walk a mile or so and then "we" wonder why children are obese. Also, the lazier you are, the bigger car you seem to need, and the bigger car you have the less consideration you have for other road users.

    Round our way, they've put in speed bumps. Every single driver now drives over each bump in the cycle lane. You have to, there are three in the road instead of two, one in the middle of each lane. So the paltry cyclist provisions are now null and void.

    The pavements are also too narrow for a buggy + child. Which is dead useful on the way to a primary school.

    As to the NHS in England, pathetic. Ours is crap, England's is laughable. The patient is not an inconvenience, they are what the NHS is for.

    Need to go now, time to pick the kids up :-)

  5. It's true the world 'has changed' and fear is the big thing. Whether it's molesters or big cars running people over - I think when I was little (back in the days of horse drawn carriages) I walked to school with the neighbours kids and their mum or else with my sister or later on on my own but on the same route as lots of other kids coming home. It's great to walk along with other kids. I was a latchkey kid cos my mum was at work and my sisters were at big school.
    (It didn't do me any harm etc)
    You do have to learn some independence and if you're being transported in a car all the time you won't ever get over your fear of the world. That said, when I was at big school and my sister gave me a lift in every now and again I bloomin loved it. not having to get two buses - that was great.

    But obviously, I'm not a parent and I do understand that people will or have to drive, but you can tell the ones that just drive everywhere all the time. Then they come home and come and sit in the house - (I now become 1950s Dad) - get outside and play cricket! Hopscotch, spinning top, British bulldog, skipping. Oh dear, nostalgia fest - having older sisters means I was well versed in all the girl games as well as just constantly kicking my football against the neighbours front wall until they complained.

    Oh dear, I'm going off on one... But thinking back I was ridiculously fit as a child - summer holidays just constantly running around for 8 hours a day. Nowadays they'd put me on Ritalin to calm me down, but probably not, it's just normal.

    Anyway, on topic - the difference the school holidays make to the roads in the morning is pretty amazing. And bureaucracy is annoying: mistakes get made (too often perhaps) - I think Sarah and myself have probably learnt a lesson - next time I'll go in the day before and demand to know that I'm definitely, definitely expected tomorrow morning. Bah.

  6. I had a whip and top. I loved it. I remember doing the elastic twist too! I almost broke a boy's jaw when I was doing handstands against the wall and he stood there watching my knickers. As I kicked my legs over, my foot made contact with his face.

    It wasn't just me, or just him... we all did it, and the boys all watched :)

    There's a lot to be said for being in and watching the telly... less accidents for one thing!

  7. that's not to say that I didn't stay in and watch the telly during the summer holidays, providing the electricity didn't run out.

    And watching the telly can cause pain as it would usually involve fights over what we would watch. I was the youngest but the whine-iest. "It's not fair! She always gets to watch her programme!"

    Kids are very bendy anyway, it's only when skateboards get involved that they start to break bones, I find.

  8. I was the oldest child in a large family... we are Catholics you know... I didn't get to watch a lot of telly... I was busy ( being an unpaid skivvy) helping my mother.

    When we got older and talked about certain TV programmes, I realised what I had missed, due to, peeling spuds, making the tea, going to the shops, walking up to my grandmother's house and filling her hot water bottle.... a right little Cinderella...


  9. Oh dear, I feel a blog post coming on.

    Childhood memories; they are flooding back as I tap away.

    I have hundreds :)

  10. Oy! Isn't it time you started a new subject up.. I am getting bored here at this bus stop :)