Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Mind your backs! Shermaine coming through

In those hazy, crazy days when I was a teenager, many moons ago, I was in a mad rush to pass my driving test. Like many other teenagers, I thought a driving licence was some type of badge of honour. Like an ASBO is nowadays.

Despite driving with one hand on the steering wheel and one on the gear stick, taking my eyes off the road to check my pager (it was a long time ago) and speeding through a roundabout in third gear, I passed and got my licence but suspect the examiner fell asleep. The precious little laminated card remains nestled in my purse, though I couldn’t tell you where the paper counterpart is. And don't ask me what I do with it.

Does it act as proof of my legal right to operate a vehicle on the highway, I hear you ask. Of course it doesn’t. It is a means of identification when I need it. Like a few years ago when I was asked for it when buying a bottle of Baileys – ah, that was a good day. Anyway, it will remain as mere ID for the time being because I’m a pedestrian. The past truly is a foreign country as I have no desire to be a driver; I like being a pedestrian, walking is part of my exercise routine (blast those calves – or quads, or whatever they are.)

As much as I love it, it’s not always that easy. There are a great many hazards that you need to contend with when opting for a power-walk. For some reason, many of the pavements around where I live seem narrower than most, made worse by the addition of shop boards and furniture, bushes and trees, and on-going construction. It gets even worse when you live on a thoroughfare for drunkards and animals – they really are messy buggers. While one leaves behind broken glass bottles, the other leaves ripped open rubbish bags. Both also like to display their meals, and not always before it’s been eaten. Generous to a fault.

Another recycling box has just arrived adding to those that are already left strewn along the pavement to turn it into a slalom. I’ve heard some people complain that all the clutter from recycling boxes reduces property values – really? – I’m not concerned about that, more about tripping over them and doing myself a mischief.

Apparently, the roads aren’t sufficient for car drivers – they need to park on the pavements. How kind of them to turn a simple walk into an obstacle course that involves squeezing past a car or dodging them when walking in the road.

At least the stationary hazards are easier to avoid: movement causes all manner of problems. Skaters, scooter riders and cyclists have been joined by mini-motorbikes (what on earth is the point?) and moped riders (seriously!) forcing the need to dodge them like a character in a computer game. Isn’t every vehicle on wheels supposed to be in the road?

That solution would also deal with the pushchair, especially with those that like to offer an optical illusion – such as those that you still can’t see after squinting at it for several long minutes. See how they make you think they’re standing behind it, when in fact they are pushing it while standing to one side. See how they block anyone from passing by. It doesn’t get much better when the rugrats start walking as they seem to have no sense of direction; no matter what you do to avoid them when they run along the pavement, they seem to follow you like you’re a target.

Aww, a loved up couple holding hands...how lovely. Must they stand as far away from each other as their arms will allow? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of holding hands? More importantly, stop blocking the pavement and get out of my way! Then they have the audacity to tut when a polite “excuse me” is offered by those in a hurry. Clearly, pushing past is much more effective. The trouble you have to go through for a bit of exercise – maybe I’d be better off in a car after all. Read more by Shermaine.