Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nose to Nose

I like Winkwell. On one side of a very narrow lane is a boatyard always with a number of narrowboats either moored or being worked on, on the other is a pub snuggling into the landscape, with plenty of seating alongside the canal. What can be finer than sitting out on a summers day drinking beer and watching people at leisure passing-by on the footpath or in barges. The bridge adds to the fun because it it is electrically operated and swings open to let the boats through; and there is nothing like a piece of working machinery to awaken little boy within.

However the road is problem if there are cars going in opposite directions as passing is either impossible or awkward and the bridge is definitely only wide enough one. Today the problem was dramatic.

It started when I was crossing the bridge and I had just about reached the other side when I was met by an on-coming car. It did not slow down in the slightest, or make any other adjustment but carried on, going just a little bit too fast. I had to move quickly to one side to avoid being squished and as I was thinking dark thoughts about the manners of the driver I heard the crunchy tyre-noise of cars breaking very hard. The car that had passed me was stopped with its nose level with the other end of the bridge, two inches away was the nose of another car, which must also have been going too fast.

The driver of the car that had passed me (lets call him Fiat Man) jumped out and started swearing saying that he had the right of way because he was on the bridge. The other one (Chrysler Man) responded by saying that was stupid and it was more difficult for him to back up to the main road. They faced up to each other ; swearing. Chrysler Man was about 60, with grey hair and leathery skin and tough looking. He was solidly built with a gravelly London accent - imagine him being played by Ray Winston.

"If you want to fuck with me then you'd better be prepared to be wet. Because that is where'd you'd be - In The Water!" he said with utter conviction.

Although Fiat man was probably twenty years younger I didn't fancy his chances. He was agitated rather than threatening - all over the place. His clothes were odd , a polo top over what like his pyjama bottoms, and all in all he had the look of someone for whom life was becoming a bit much. He turned round took the keys out of the ignition and for one hugely pleasurable moment I thought he was going to hurl them into the water to spite everybody. Instead he just leaned over the railings and looked at the water - who knows what he was thinking.

The stand-off continued. Cars drove up and then turned round as they realised it would be quicker for them to take a loop. I had a brief chat with one of the nearby householders who shrugged his shoulders and went in. Everybody else alongside the canal was just looked-on, as I did. Then the running instinct cut-in and told me I couldn't be hang around any longer as I was only halfway and so I toddled off. For all I know they are still there.

When I started I was vaguely amused but after a couple of miles or so I started to think about my reaction and how it had been inadequate. I ought to have made some effort to mediate. The situation was stupid and eventually one of them would have to reverse to let the other through. It was only a matter of time and finding a way so neither of them would lose face. Perhaps I could have helped; perhaps not. I will never know because I did not try. This stems from a character trait - I am not much of a participant and do not instinctively rush forward. I do not involve myself enough with others. Much more I am the detached observer.

Running throws up many things and it shows you things about your character: how you face challenges, endure and overcome difficulties. In this case it put me in a place and showed me how I tend to react, or not to react, to things on the outside of my bubble. It gave me something else to think about.

(PS The photo is one from last year. This year the pub has a different sign)

1 comment:

Adele said...

No, I think this is one situation to keep well out of! If someone is in danger I will step in (and have done so in the past) but if it's two pillocks arguing about who should back up, then leave them to it I say!