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Thursday 6th May, 2021

Bizarre Thought for the Week, w/c 17th March 2008
Tony Dobson

Hi all,
A few months ago I was coming home from work and minding my own business about in my car, less than a mile from my front door. At that moment a lunatic veered out of the opposite lane into mine and came screeching to a halt at the village butcher's. Fortunately I'd had enough time to slow down and get out of the way.

As I manoeuvred slightly to the right to avoid the now parked driver I looked to my left, ready to give them a dirty look. There was one small problem. I knew the driver.

So with that in mind let's look at the worst drivers I've ever known. I hope you can excuse the gaps, as I obviously can't mention everybody (for reasons mainly of space, but in some cases to preserve friendships and job security).

163) My Dad. Just because he'd be offended if he were left out, and offended if I didn't consider him the best driver who's ever lived, which he so clearly is.

(Moving swiftly on.)

152) My old friend Matt. Actually a superb driver, usually able to combine driving with funny anecdotes and half-decent music. I still owe him for introducing me to Bowie's "Life On Mars".

137) My university housemate Dave. Actually he wasn't a bad driver, but I've just got a good story from when I was in a car with him that I need to share. After we'd all gone together to arrange our housing for our second year at Uni the prospective housemates were heading back to campus in Dave's car. As we came up to a set of traffic lights we spotted someone we knew, so we shouted to get his attention, and once he turned round Dave unleashed a corking horror film-style laugh. The look on this guy's face was priceless.

(It's possibly the second funniest "friends in a car" story that I know, behind one that I can't tell for numerous reasons, none of which thankfully are to do with British laws.)

42) My old friend Jacqueline. Quick story from the first time I drove a car up to Scotland to visit friends. One evening we met at Jacqueline's before heading out. As I was unfamiliar with the roads Jacqueline suggested that I followed her to where we were going.

It seemed like a great suggestion until we left her house, and Jacqueline nipped out of the smallest possible gap in the traffic onto the main road, leaving me well and truly stuck at the junction. I should probably count myself lucky that I'm not still waiting there.

6) My old friend Ruth. Back in the days where a few of us would meet at someone's house outside Portsmouth and then decide on somewhere to go in Portsmouth the following scenario would always happen: Two cars go ahead and wonder where Ruth's car is. Five minutes later on the A3(M) Ruth's car passes us all at vast speed. Ten minutes later we meet in Portsmouth and Ruth disputes various estimates of how fast she was going.

She was a smart girl, so I'll put it down to youth and inexperience. I suspect she's a better driver now.

2) Slow Frank. When I moved up here I was warned that I should hope never to be stuck behind this guy on the road. A few years later I was in a hurry to get to work one morning when I got stuck behind his infamous Peugeot 405. Reaching the startling speed of 15mph I was stuck behind him all the way to his work. Ugh. I managed to make my connection (I can't remember if I took the train or the coach back then), but I'm pretty sure I had to run to make it.

You know the really worrying thing about Slow Frank? He's a Fireman. I hope he never has to drive a fire engine in an emergency.

1) My Mum's friend Kate. Top of the list by quite some way, I don't think I had the misfortune to get into a car driven by her twice, but that's probably because I wouldn't have put myself in that position a second time.

Kate was always a bit odd. She had a West Country twang in her voice which seemed at odds with someone who had lived in Hampshire for donkeys years, and occasionally you could see that her legs, ahem, weren't the smoothest. And I don't just mean stubble.

Anyway one day one summer my Mum and Kate were on a trip to a large wholesaler, and for some reason that escapes I was with them. I don't remember the journey there, or the trip around the wholesalers, but I do remember the terrifying journey home. From my position in the back seat I had a perfect view of the speedometer going about 70mph, while we weaved left and right down little country lanes.

And what was Kate doing that was so frightening? Her head was turned ninety degrees to the left, talking to my Mum. Thankfully they weren't famous last words.

Have a good week (buckle your seatbelt!),

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