In May 2012, the firm that I work for branched out and opened a second ‘satellite’ office in Sandbach. You may have noticed that I happen to live in Sandbach, and will not therefore be surprised to learn that I had a small part to play in choosing the location – which happened to be just down the road from our house. Winner.
So, after six years of working at our main office in Poynton – which is the village where I grew up on the other side of Cheshire – I suddenly found myself with a five minute walk to work, compared to the one hour drive (each way), with which I had become accustomed.
I didn’t mind the commute from Sandbach to Poynton, as it can be quite a nice drive, and I had spent four years with my previous firm having to suffer the M6 every day, so any journey is preferable to that. The M6, particularly the stretch between Sandbach and Knutsford (junctions 17-19 for you motorway buffs out there), is just about the most soul-destroying and treacherous journey anyone can ever take. People have been known to complete the Pan-American Highway faster, and would certainly encounter fewer accidents along the way.
In contrast, the best route from Sandbach to Poynton takes in winding country roads, some moderately-beautiful scenery, a large boat moored in someone’s back garden, and a massive satellite dish in the form of the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank. What more can a commuter ask for?
No matter how pleasant a drive is, though, it will never be better than a five minute walk to work, even if the scenery on that walk, in contrast, happens to be a dodgy car garage and several overflowing skips. This is especially true when you have young children, as I was now able to spend a bit longer having breakfast with them before leaving the house in the morning, and would be home in time to enjoy a family dinner, bath-time (them, not me) and a story before bed.
I spent three years at the Sandbach office, before I was informed earlier this year that it would have to close. I won’t go into the reasons behind the decision, suffice to say I understood why it had been made, and why I would have to return to working in Poynton. I wasn’t happy, and losing the independence and responsibility of running an office certainly felt like a considerable step backwards in my career (it still does), but there wasn’t much I could do about it.
So, a few months ago, I packed up my belongings, took the pictures of my family and – more importantly – Edgeley Park off the wall, waved goodbye to ‘Audrey II’ (our ever-expanding plant, which had by now taken over a quarter of the office, and had started feeding on small rodents and unsuspecting children), and moved everything back to Poynton.
I knew the car journey each day would be bearable, as I had done it for six years previously, and I was actually quite excited to rediscover some long-forgotten CDs – instead of having to suffer Justin Fletcher’s Nursery Rhymes or the Frozen Soundtrack – but after a few months of rush-hour driving again, I can safely say that the novelty has well and truly worn off. This is mostly due to the fact that one important factor has changed since the last time I was part of the Cheshire commute: me.
At first, I thought it was everyone else who was suddenly the problem, and that driving standards had inexplicably and dramatically dropped in my absence, but it turns out that it is in fact me, and my complete intolerance of other drivers, which has got worse. And I wasn’t that tolerant before.
Of course, most people are angered by idiotic and dangerous drivers (apart from the idiotic and dangerous drivers themselves), but the list of misdemeanours that now regularly piss me off, has mutated faster than Audrey II and her all-encompassing, child-scoffing, foliage.
For example, I am infuriated by drivers who:
- don’t indicate;
- leave their indicators on for miles and miles, no doubt curiously wondering what that repetitive ticking sound in their ears might be (an unexploded bomb on the back seat perhaps?);
- don’t say thank you when you let them out;
- would rather block your path than let you out, despite being in a queue of slow moving traffic and going nowhere;
- overtake/undertake dangerously;
- drive too slowly and cause tailbacks –e.g. all Honda Civic or Toyota Yaris drivers;
- drive over, or the wrong way around, mini-roundabouts, just because they can and because it will save them 0.005 seconds;
- go past a queue of traffic at speed, and then cut in at the last minute…
Now, I know that a number of people reading this, will not only agree with the above list, but will also regard it as relatively common and widely-accepted amongst the sensible driving community. However, don’t be fooled into thinking my list stops there. That’s only the start, and my recent additions seem to go beyond what would be considered by most drivers to be ‘normal’.
For example, I am increasingly uneasy about the number of white cars on the roads of Cheshire. This is not an irrational form of racism on my part, but I just don’t understand why anyone would want to buy a white car, especially when they will be driving it around country roads which are, by their very nature, an endless supply of mud, road-kill and shit. Perhaps all white car owners just love to constantly clean them – as I can only assume they need to do this at least twice a week – because other than that, I cannot see the attraction.
Even worse, I tend to associate different makes and models of cars with certain stereotypes, and have now started to convince myself that the owners of white versions of these cars represent the extreme end of the spectrum. For instance, we all know that drivers of BMWs and Audis – particularly those of the saloon variety – are dangerous morons, but those in white ones seem to be even worse. I swear all white BMWs and Audis must now come with complimentary sunglasses when you buy them, because every single driver I see in one of these cars is wearing them. Even at night. I can only assume this is to help make the balding middle-manager / estate agent who is driving, feel even sexier as he overtakes someone at 85mph on a blind bend. Either that or it’s some kind of BMW/Audi-driving alien invasion.
I have often wondered whether, as a man, if you go into a BMW or Audi dealership you are immediately invited to have your genitals measured. I imagine it’s a bit like that machine you put your foot into at Clarks, when you’re buying shoes as a kid. “Good morning Sir. Yes, I’d be happy to show you our range of M3s, but if you could just step over here and flop your old chap into our willy-measurer first, please?”
Presumably, only those with extraordinarily large penises are then allowed to actually buy a BMW or Audi, because all men seen driving them appear to be extremely pleased with how well-endowed they are. Indeed, they are often so large of trouser, that this is classed as a disability, and enables them to park in a disabled space or, in extreme cases, across two of them diagonally.
Then, there are Range Rovers. Since my commute to and from work takes me through Alderley Edge, and particularly past a posh school for the children of footballers and those of inherited wealth, I am forever having to be wary of Range Rovers suddenly pulling out of gated driveways at speed, intent on travelling the 50 yards from their house to the school as fast as possible, before parking at an angle on the nearest available grass verge or child. Make that Range Rover white, and you can now almost guarantee that the artificially-chested peroxide blonde struggling to control it, is in hugely inappropriate heels ready for her daily shopping trip and spray tan. Either that, or it’s the maid driving.
I could go on and deal with the drivers of other white cars, such as sporty hatchbacks (hairdressers), or Porsches (tosspots), but I feel I have adequately made my point. Sadly, though, my irrationality doesn’t end with the drivers of white cars.
Despite having a personalised number plate myself, which is primarily made up of my initials and the year I was born, I can’t abide owners of supposedly ‘funny’ number plates. It’s bad enough when some stupid tart has a number plate like ‘LOOCY XX’, or ‘SHAZ 4EVA’, but I’m seeing more and more number plates where the driver is presumably still chuckling to himself/herself months after purchase. A recent example that I have genuinely seen is ‘53 BUS’….. on a Volvo. Why? You might as well go for ‘D1CK 3D’ or ‘4RS3 H0L3’, because it’ll send the same message to the rest of us.
I like to think of myself, generally, as a relatively upbeat and chipper individual, who lets life’s little annoyances calmly wash over him, and hopefully you have gleaned this about me from the 23 preceding blog entries. However for two hours a day, five days a week, I am in my car and I become an irrational monster – with a fuse so short, it makes my woefully inadequate non-BMW genitals look long.
In short (no pun intended), I think the commute is starting to take its toll on my sanity, and I’m beginning to lose it a little. I’ve started talking to myself while driving, and answering the presenters on the radio. I even really liked a song by the girl group ‘Little Mix’ this week and sang along. I know, that can’t be right. But, weirder than all of that, I recently drove along a country road and, whilst passing a herd of cows, I mooed at them. I FUCKING MOOED AT THEM. Loudly, too. What, on God’s green earth, would possess a rational human being to do that, when no one is around to hear them? I genuinely fear for my mental well-being.
I have no doubt though, that my irrational madness is entirely the fault of all the other drivers in Cheshire. They may be nice people when you meet them in the street, or at a party, but when they get into their cars between the hours of 7.30-9am and 5-6pm, they are insufferable cretins who should all be shot immediately.
And don’t even get me started on cyclists.