- Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
- Proverbs 16:18
Only yesterday we were discussing driving in the shop, with particular reference to the idiocy of other drivers. I stayed quiet on the subject. This was partly because I have done a lot of driving and done it safely, and am therefore quietly confident (possibly even smug) about my abilities. It was also because over the last year or two it has begun to occur to me that I’m not quite as good as I used to be. I’m less alert, not quite as quick-thinking and have more trouble looking over my shoulder than I used to. It’s a troubling thought as it involves admitting I’m getting old.
This was driven home forcibly at lunchtime.
However, before telling you about that, I will briefly describe our activities of the morning.
First we looked at the snow that had fallen overnight. It wasn’t particularly impressive, but it was a complete covering. It was also much fluffier than usual, and brushed off the car easily. I’m told that this is because it’s coming across land, where our normal snow is soggy from a journey across the sea.
Then we went for a late breakfast at Harvester in Wilford. I had a smaller breakfast than usual. I probably isn’t such good value for money as the bigger one but I left feeling I could have fitted a few more morsels in. This is how it should be. Ramming the last few forkfuls home like I’m loading a cannon is uncomfortable, and probably not helping my diet. Anyway, having fitted in fruit, yogurt, an extensive Full English and several crumpets, I really didn’t need any more.
Next stop was the MENCAP garden. It’s closed for the week as it’s likely to be too cold to work, particularly as it has no electricity and little shelter until the polytunnel is re-built. There is a container, but Julia has increased membership of the group as part of her job and they can no longer fit in it comfortably.
While we were there we collected some paint and woodstain, filled the bird feeders and noted that something in the garden likes kale. The obvious culprits are pigeons. Even though kale is generally considered safe from pigeons we can’t think of anything else likely to have done the damage – it certainly isn’t caterpillar weather.
Finally the long-suffering taxi-driver was allowed to listen to the radio in the car park outside Hobbycraft as his wife made a dent in their extensive stock.
This proved to be the highpoint of the day.
On the way home I turned onto a steep road. It’s called Mapperley Rise at one end and Winchester Street at the other. In between it is quite steep. However, it’s a reasonably busy road and it’s used by buses, so road, I assumed there would be no problem using it.
How wrong I was.
About half-way down one of the cars in front of us started fish-tailing and skidding wildly. It didn’t seem to do anything, the slide just started. Fortunately it regained control after about twenty yards.
The same thing happened to the one in front of us.
I was very careful. I was gentle on the controls. And I didn’t slide where the other two had slid.
However, I did seem to be going a bit too fast.
I tried a bit of cadence braking.
It didn’t work.
As the rear end of the Peugeot in front loomed larger I had three choices.
Choice One – overtake. which might involve the front end of an oncoming car. Did I mention we were on a bend and I couldn’t see what was coming?
Option Two – hit the Peugeot. My experience of French cars is that they are quite soft.
Option Three – hit the kerb to slow down or mount the pavement and squeeze into the narrow space available between the Peugeot and the somewhat menacing wall that runs along the side of the footpath at that point.
(Please note that these “options” were more like swift thoughts accompanied by a touch of panic. I’ve dressed them up in hindsight to make myself look more competent than I actually was.)
I completely failed to find the kerb and was most of the way past the Peugeot on the footpath when the tyres started to grip. At that point it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought of pedestrians. Fortunately there were none.
Looking back, I think that there was a layer of melting water running down the hill on top of ice, and nothing short of snow chains was going to prevent us slipping. When the cars in front skidded they scrubbed speed off by going sideways and hitting the kerb. My careful approach prevented me skidding, and meant I was going too fast when I finally lost control.
I’d have been better off skidding in the first place.
I still have a few errands to do, but they can wait until the weather improves. Until then I’m going to sit at home and consider the benefits of humility.
The final picture shows Julia struggling with the feeders. I could have helped, but then I wouldn’t have been able to take the photo.
Photos added later.