Hell is other drivers. As Jean Paul Sartre did not (quite) say. Driving down the valley, trying to be a model citizen (you've got to try, even with an itchy right foot), I arrived behind a queue of people following a grey van doing about ten miles an hour less than the speed limit. The road is the main valley road. Once it leaves town it's wide open, clear and the speed limit is 40 miles an hour. It's a road designed for getting from A to B. And today, it could have been doing a pretty good job. In fact, it was working well for the cars in front, as, one by one they overtook the van. Leaving me stranded behind our grey friend as the road narrowed and curved to where double white lines mark the centre. Do not overtake here.
Oh well, I thought, trying to resign myself to being late and talk myself out of my building irritation. Whilst I could have just floored it and overtaken the lot when I first saw the moving roadblock, I didn't. Never mind, it would, ultimately only make a couple of minutes' difference - surely.
Caution and careful driving is one thing, I mused, but trailing along at a snail's pace is quite another. I tried to imagine what was causing this extremely unhurried tempo. Living in Hebden Bridge I'm quite used to odd loads. I gave the Ford Ka loaded with four angora goats peering out of the back window quite a wide berth, for instance. The rear windows of this vehicle were blacked out though, and not giving me any clues. I'd just have to imagine there was something extremely fragile or wriggly in the back of the van.
As I was daydreaming a small flock of hens or a dozen piglets in existence, charging round the boot with glee (pretty cute really), it took off. No hanging about all of a sudden. And the speed limit looked like a minor irrelevance. Straight past thirty, no hesitation at forty and sailing off yonder at a good fifty miles an hour by my reckoning. Completely regardless of the numbers in red circles at the side of the road.
I didn't give chase - I mean, there could have been a crisis with one of the pygmy goats. Who's to say? So I confined myself to the virtuous just-about-legal point on the speedometer dial and hoped I'd seen the last of the mysterious van.
Round the corner and, whoa, I was to be disappointed. There it was. Again. And it might as well have been parked in the road for all the speed it was doing.
At this point I decided to keep well back. There was no rhyme or reason to it. It wallowed around at twentyish for a few more metres then shot off again as though the accelerator was playing russian roulette. Maybe it was - maybe there was just something wrong with it. Maybe the driver had cramp in his right leg. Who knows? I glanced sideways when, barely a mile later, it pulled into a lay by (conveniently furnished with a butty van). Just a normal looking bloke. No straw, no lambs, not even a border collie with its paws on the dashboard. What on earth had he been thinking? Answers on a postcard please....
By Beate Kubitz at 7 Nov 2014, 00:00 AM