I’ve forgotten how to drive on ice.
I am not sure whether to put it down to global warming or post-recession efficiency with the gritting, but I am struggling to remember the last time I had to drive on ice. I really think it must have been the mid-90s.
So there I was, descending gratefully out of fog and blethering away with the phone on hands-free, when I lost traction on the front wheels. Not for long. In fact, by the time I’d squeaked “fuck!” into the phone I’d regained the steering and thought “Blow-out? No. Ice”. I then said “I’m ok but I’ll call you back” and started concentrating on the infuriating mixture of water and rime that I was driving over.
I am an irritatingly safe driver; the sort that always obeys urban speed limits and that will sit for as long as it takes – for three minutes, five minutes, seven minutes – waiting for a safe gap in traffic. The sort that will go round a roundabout twice rather than cut across two lanes and who will plan a route to avoid a bad junction.
I do however swear like a Big Brother contestant at anyone I think is endangering me and I run red lights on the basis that – where I live at least – every other bugger out there is running the reds which makes it more dangerous to go through on green. Actually, I prefer to run red lights than get rear-ended by the two vehicles behind me who follow me through. (Have I mentioned how much I hate tailgaters?)
It was dark as well as icy this evening, so I drove at 20 miles or so per hour in the middle of the empty country lane in case I found some black ice, skidded off to one side, ran out of tarmac and landed in a ditch, when I saw the rise and dip of another set of headlights a third of a mile or so away. So I pulled over by a farm and waited.
Then a vehicle arrived behind me and also waited.
The headlights weren’t coming any closer and I’d got my new best friend behind me so I decided to set off again but this time with a nice friendly tailgater cosying up behind me. In fairness, he wasn’t outrageously close, but I still have no idea why he hadn’t gone past me when he reached me in the first place.
We went over the brow of the hill and saw a car facing us with one wheel on the road, two wheels on the verge and the fourth in the ditch and another car behind it also facing us but more or less in the right part of the road. Since I was not following anyone, they must have both been coming towards me when one lost it and tipped off the road.
Normally I’d stop and offer to phone the police or the AA or whoever, but my tolerance for people who drive aggressively on rural back-roads is fairly low at the best of times, and my sympathy for people who try to overtake on rural back roads at night when the temperature is hovering either side of freezing dips well below freezing itself.
So I didn’t stop; I didn’t offer to phone the police or the AA or anyone else; I just drove on by and 6 minutes later I was home.
What is really odd is that I don’t actually feel like a bitch.