Last Sunday I had to haul myself out of bed at the unsavoury time of 5am. This wasn’t a voluntary act of course, I had something to attend to. Something that required a drive of about 150 miles. Now normally the opportunity to drive between the hours of Silly o’clock and Stupid o’clock means clear roads and the opportunity to stretch the car’s legs and have a little fun. Within safe and legal limits of course.
To be fair, the journey along the A30 and A35 through Devon and Dorset was largely an enjoyable affair. The long stretches of clear and empty roads between periodic roundabouts seemed to suit the urS6 and for 90% of the time, the drive was indeed a real pleasure. But it wasn’t all plain sailing – not one bit. As I crossed the Hampshire border at around Stupid o’clock, it occurred to me that all along the journey, there had been a number of annoyances and irritations that seemed hellbent on ruining the experience. I’m not talking about speed cameras, speed limits, traffic lights or junctions, I’m talking about other road users. But not just any old road users, there are certain breeds of drivers who only exist between the hours of Silly o’clock and Stupid o’clock and they have a single purpose in life. To ruin everyone else’s day. Each breed has a name and I’m exposing them on this here PetrolBlog so you can at least have some chance of avoiding them. Beware though, they will strike when you least expect them.
I’ve never been to a car boot sale. I know I’d hate it. In fact, if someone offered me the choice of having rusty nails inserted into my left eye socket, or a trip to the local car boot sale, I’d be asking for a hammer. But unfortunately the menace of the car booters stretches much further than the badly mowed field in which they spend their time. They also have to get to and from the site and this is where the trouble starts. I had the misfortune of following a car booter last weekend. You’ll know a car booter because invariably they drive around in 02 registered small cars, such as Corsas or Fiestas. Indeed, the maroon coloured Fiesta I followed last week was a case in point. The guy driving it was far too big for the little Fiesta and as such was positioned at a near 90 degrees angle to the steering wheel. He also had no awareness of other road users or anything that didn’t involve the nest of tables that he hoped to purchase for little more than 50p. After some frantic haggling to get the seller down from 60p. It was almost as though he was on autopilot to the site, like those vintage cars you get at theme parks. Whatever you do with the steering wheel, the car maintains a consistent path around the track, almost as though it is on rails. And that’s because it is. They’ll cruise at a steady 27mph for the whole journey, but once they have visual contact with the site, all hell breaks lose. With no indication or warning, they launch headlong into the car park, screeching to a halt next to the silver Zafira with local radio stickers and they’re off to hunt down the nest of tables. Seriously, keep out of the way of car booters.
There’s nothing wrong with taking your dog for a walk. A chance to enjoy the best part of the day in the company of man’s best friend with only a poop-a-scoop and Tesco carrier bag about your person. The problem is, more often than not, the dog walk starts with a short car journey. So the canine pal is promptly dispatched into the boot of the car and a bleary eyed and committed owner swiftly embarks on a short journey that barely allows the engine oil to reach luke warm temperature. So there you are minding your own business, enjoying some sweeping bends when, as you exit a tidy right hander, you notice a light blue Honda Jazz waiting to pull out from a side road. But this Jazz doesn’t wait. The combination of Aled Jones on the radio and the incessant barking of Pebbles in the boot means that the Jazz man needs to get away quick. So he pulls out in front of you, leaving you just enough time to slam the brake pedal and bring your momentous drive to a grinding halt. But there’s worse to come, for Jazz man needs to turn right, so without any warning he brakes and then switches on his right winker. Leaving you to mouth something along the lines of Jazz man himself being a right winker.
My final culprit for this edition is the tipper. Those strange and wonderful creatures who simply must be at the local tip as soon as the gates are open. Come on, surely life is far too short to spend your Sunday mornings queuing at the local tip? Well not for some. For some people, the chance to enjoy a relaxing morning with a decent coffee and the Sunday papers is outweighed by the opportunity to head to the local rubbish tip to dispense of yesterday’s grass cuttings or remains of the privet hedge. Does it really have to be done at Stupid o’clock? Invariably, the trip to the tip means hitching a homemade trailer to the back of the Honda C-RV. More often than not, the trailer is barely bigger than a postage stamp and is adorned by a wonky number plate which never matches the car it is attached to. The blasted trailer bounces merrily along in front of you, teasing you as it circumnavigates a beautiful hairpin at precisely 31mph. Bits of privet hedge splattering across your bonnet and pieces of hardcore being left in the line of a hapless motorbike rider for later in the day. Tippers I have a top tip for you. Why not leave the tipping for Wednesday afternoon and leave the roads for us to enjoy. I’ll tip my hat to you.
The sad fact is that the hours between Silly o’clock and Stupid o’clock represent what is in actual fact that last great opportunity to enjoy a good drive. For sure, the Car booters, Doggies and Tippers of the world will do their best to ruin it for you, but like a wasp at a picnic they can be quickly eradicated leaving you free to enjoy the cup cakes and Pimms.
This Sunday I will once again be venturing out at Silly o’clock and taking the Skoda Fabia vRS for a spirited blast along the North Cornish coastline. I’m sure the Car booters, Doggies and Tippers will be out in force, but you can read the full road test on here shortly. Right now, I’m off for an early night.
Car boot and tip images courtesy of Wikipedia
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