London drivers – not entirely unlike school children

What’s the difference between a badly behaved student and a London driver? No, dear reader, I am not making a funny, it’s a genuine question and one that leaves me genuinely fuming in a car that a) I’m not even driving and b) is so small that it is often mistaken for a motorbike with a handy red shell.

I don’t drive. However, before you start muttering about people who moan about things they have no experience of (like Michael Gove, or racists who’ve never met anyone from an ethnic minority) I’d like to point out that I have the dubious pleasure of being a passenger. Don’t get me wrong, my better half is an excellent driver – safe, cautious and unashamedly rule following at all times. It is, in fact, this desire to follow the rules that leaves us both, passenger and driver, all road-ragy.

It seems that consideration, manners and patience are not necessary for drivers along the route between my humble abode and my place of work. I approach the journey each morning with a tacit understanding that I will experience fear, frustration and the odd moment of serious confusion. The closest analogy is that of a roller coaster. We leave the drive, strapped in, grim determination on our faces, moving slowly and surely toward the first turn.

The first uphill climb is through Tottenham, where every bus ever made wants to stop at the same bus stop, where pedestrians (often with prams) think of roads as mere inconveniences, to be crossed at any point. Clearly, everyone in Tottenham is going somewhere and the Green Cross Code is hazy at best. Of course, we make slow progress. It is entirely expected, because we reach the first big danger zone – the big drop – Stamford Hill. Lovely place, crazy drivers. The percentage of dents-in-side-of-car increases as we drive towards Stoke Newington.

Enter white van man. I do bear something of a grudge towards white van man because he is singularly responsible for the only accident we’ve ever had, one that lost us our no claims, no less. He is, in turns, aggressive and reckless. Occasionally, we come across the lesser-spotted white van man who shows a modicum of respect in maintaining a safe distance from Tallulah. That’s the car, in case you were wondering. Anyhow, the Kingsland Road seems to be the preferred habitat of this particularly odious species.

I am aware that my analogies have become terribly mixed, do bear with me.

As we hurtle towards work, it is impatience that characterises the remainder of the journey. Do forgive us. We like to wait until the old lady has crossed the road before we rev into action again. Oh and we do have to wait until that driver has pulled out, as he’s halfway across already, so beeping us is not going to help because we can’t go through him, now can we?

You get the point, although you’re probably wondering what this has to do with schoolchildren. It’s really rather simple. The behaviour we witness on the roads, I see every day in classrooms and corridors. The child who can’t wait for lunch and jumps the queue. The child who doesn’t feel the need to consider others’ safety and careers down the corridors, knocking into all and sundry. The selfish child who wants attention, who won’t wait, who makes his presence known.

And also, the child who wants to follow the rules and is bullied as a result. Harumph. It isn’t easy being righteous and well-behaved all the time.

I guess I know how those kids feel.


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