Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Driving Me To Madness...

There is a TV programme in the UK called Top Gear, presented by James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard (the Hamster) Hammond which I watch on a fairly regular basis since the installment of Mr Parnsip in the house.

It's all about cars: sexy cars; sleek cars; sports cars - cars which I covet. Now, I am not a petrol head by any stretch of the imagination, but when I lived in Oman, as cars were so cheap out there, I was lucky enough to own two Jeeps - a Grand, and a Regular Skinny Low Fat - amongst others, as well as having the loan of a Mini Cooper S for a long weekend which I razzed up and down the highway until Sultan Qaboos himself was sick and tired of seeing this blue bottle zipping around.

But for someone who does like a jolly nice car, I don't especially like driving. And this is for a number of reasons:
a) I get severe road rage when somebody is doing max 5mph below the speed limit unless there is a jolly good reason for it: old age and learner drivers do not constitute good reasons to me, I'm afraid.
b) I am a bit night blind since I had my eyes lasered for short-sightedness and find myself slamming on my brakes when driving along dark country lanes, of which there are many near where I live (this is, however, a 'jolly good reason' cf (a)).
c) I always, but always, get hopelessly lost when having to drive to a new place.

Yes, yes, I know. There are these wonderful gadgets called SatNavs which you can install into your vehicle, but I know that the only way I would get one due to their cost would be for a birthday or Christmas and I am buggered if I am going to accept a gadget when I could have shoes, jewels, candles or toiletries.

Yesterday, I had the 'pleasure' of driving to Leamington Spa in Warwickshire to attend an Adobe Photoshop course for work. Having previously been quietly excited about it, I was devastated to learn that Mr Parsnip had discovered a similar course being held at our local college, three miles away, for a fraction of the price. The thought of driving 200 miles, round trip, was anathaema to my soul.

A work colleague was accompanying me and she was charged with navigating our route from supposedly very concise directions I had printed from AA.Com. Don't ever use AA.Com. They are rubbish.

She was rubbish, too. We had a dead straight route down the M6 and all she had to do was look out for the A452. She missed the turning, thus did I, and we ended up driving 5 miles down a road with no junctions, plenty of speed cameras, and lots of police until I could do a very illegal U-turn, shriek with fear, swear a blue streak, and get back to the roundabout where we should have taken the A road turning.

This was where it all went really wrong due to the AA's directions. The A452 didn't take us to Leamington such as it suggested using their 'take a right at the pillar box with the dog poo sticker on the front' and 'left at the off license which sells Carling Black Label to underage school children'. No. It took us into Loonyville country where everyone was rake thin, wore blusher up to their browline, stared at us as though we bore wellies on our heads and missed out numbered junctions on their Motorways.

I ended up on a Motorway heading for London. I got on at junction 14, aiming for junction 15. As I got on, I had a horrible realisation that the next one might not be 15 - it could quite easily be 13. As chance would have it, the next junction was 12. Eh? My forehead knitted in consternation. Was I dreaming? OK, I was obviously heading the wrong way, but had I just gone through a time warp? Saying many silent prayers to my Guardian Angel that coming off at J12 would at least allow me to get onto the opposite carriageway and thus find J15, we got on at J13. Eh? again. How could J12 suddenly morph into J13? I drove along, peering at each blue sign, hoping that even though we were already very late, that the Tutor would understand that you can't be 'later than late' and empathise with my dreadful navigator and my complete panic attacks.

There was no J14.

Either I am going barmy, or some Civil Engineer is playing a trick on unsuspecting, crap drivers, like me. I suspect the latter, to be perfectly honest with you...

I set off from my course in driving rain and a howling gale. I missed the turning for the A46 which my tutor had painstakingly explained and drawn for me. I ended up on the A45 which is painfully slow due to the lights at every 100 yards (I almost wrote 'years' then, which was obviously a Freudian slip), all of which were against me. Red, Red, Red. No wonder I never wear that colour, even though it suits my Raven Beauty hair dye...

I was supposed to return to the course this morning but due to personal issues (a mild nervous breakdown, some harsh critics might suggest), I was unable. My only relief at bombing the course was avoiding the journey. I was also supposed to attend a Flash Animation course at the same centre on Thursday and Friday. Thankfully, I have rescheduled this until May and I shall most definitely take up the company's offer of bed and board for the night.

When will somebody invent a Tardis for eejits like me?

12 comments:

Charles Parsnip said...

Nice post, and a good shot of Mr Clarkson there.

All I can say is that 'tis a good job there were no cyclists on the route, otherwise this would have been a tale of death and night and blood... yukio.

Hawk said...

Sounds like you had one helluva a bloody time. It has been far too much time since I have visited. My apologies.

A great read and enjoyed the traveling adventures. BTW, how many Xanax did you actually take?

Later my friedn.

thewishfulwriter said...

I've lived this. On my side of the pond. i feel for you.

thewishfulwriter said...

i've lived this. on my side of the pond. i feel for you.

hi charles!!

Linda and her Surroundings said...

Oh, how fascinating reading this post because it may well have been ME writing it. No one person I know ever asks me for directions to anything. As recently as last year I got lost in my own suburb.

Live local is what I say!. Keeps the mileage nice and low on the car.

fishwithoutbicycle said...

I can kind of understand there being no J13 - I have been in many an office building and hotel that has no 13th floor - bad luck you see, but no 14??? A complete mystery.

"I am buggered if I am going to accept a gadget when I could have shoes, jewels, candles or toiletries."

Ah a woman after my own heart. Very sensible Agnes :-)

Agnes Mildew said...

Hawk: Xanax. Ah...oh how I wish I could have procured some. What a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling I would have had. But then again, no blog post, I guess!

Wishful: Getting lost has no boundaries, does it? I think I need to become a hermit.

Linda: I agree completely. Live local, save on fuel. If Mr Parsnip would let me become a 1950s housewife with a gingham apron and a dirndl skirt, I'd be happy to never get lost again...

Fish: No gadgets for me. I feel most strongly about this. Ever since the ex cashed in my Gold or Gift coupons and 'bought' me a food processor when I was feeling sorry for myself. What larks, eh? Not...

Keli said...

Don't be jealous, Agnes, but I have a built-in navigation and radar system in my head so that I never get lost. Thankfully, I don't need one in my car and just as you accurately stated, it's far more practical to spend the extra money on shoes and jewels and candles, which is exactly what I do. I must put Looneyville on my list of places to visit when I come to the UK.

Hope said...

In Texas you MUST have car..everything is far away. I wont go into Houston drivers...

Agnes Mildew said...

Keli: Wow! I could do with borrowing your brain next time I have a journey to make, then. I must have the worst sense of direction in the whole wide world. Give me straight roads, any day.

Hope: That is possibly one reason why I wouldn't up sticks and move to Texas. I have only once lived somewhere I didn't need a car and it was bliss. The walking also made me rather slim which I did enjoy!

Kathleen Mortensen said...

I've been to Leamington Spa. Fortunately, I was on a bus.
I live in Canada, but have a real softspot for the UK. Also watch, Clarkson and his boys on Top Gear. Laughed me arse off in one episode when the hamster was away up on a Scottish isle and made reference to "The Wicker Man".
Found you over at Linda's. Stop by my blog Poetikat's if you're so inclined. Adding you to my "blogfellows".
Kat

Agnes Mildew said...

Kathleen: Thanks for dropping by. I think you did a wise thing by travelling to Leamington by bus. Beautiful Town but a sod to get to. Had a look at your blog. Fantastic poetry. I shall most definitely pop by more often!