OLD though I am, I am not old enough to have been around in the days when movies should more properly have been called jerkies on account of the projectionist winding the film through the camera with a spanner.
Despite this, one film from that era has stuck in my mind, It had an actor called WC Fields, who played an ordinary bloke who came into millions. He’d spent most of his adult life as the bandicoot of the highways, being flattened by vehicles bigger than his, and generally run off the road by idiots and thugs on four wheels.
So when he comes into a fortune overnight he gaily spends it on cars – which he drives into other cars.
He drives around until he witnesses some act of driving lunacy perpetrated by someone with their hands on the wheel but their head up their bum, and he rams them. When he’s wrecked his own car he takes a bus back home to pick a new one, and he starts again.
I want to be him.
He’d be dead now; I’m just old. Well, old-ish. It creeps up on you in new and interesting ways. Hair in the ears, increased flatulence, muttering about other drivers.
We didn’t realise, my wife and I, until we were driving home yesterday.
“Did you see that!” bristled my wife, her back stiff with righteousness as a young, shiny car with four headlights and a driver with no wrinkles shot past us (just) in the other direction having rounded a corner across the double lines.
“Where would he be now if I’d done that?” I muttered, forgetting for a moment that if I had he’d be in the same place that we’d be.
Then we went quiet. Elderliness had crept up and was sitting in the back seat. Old people whinge about other drivers. Young people just yell abuse. Or wave a single digit in the air. And middle-aged people come at you with a wrench. All that’s left for old people is muttering in mutual indignation.
From under a hat.
And the interesting thing is that none of us are bad drivers. We have wisdom and experience on our side (and the reflexes of a dish rag, but let’s not go into that).
We drive slowly because, I suspect, we see life’s precipice (or, more accurately, death’s precipice) rushing towards us, and there are no brakes. If we could drive backwards, we would.
But still I remember enviously the man in the movie who got his revenge by ramming the bastards.
The stick-on-your-tail bastards and the only-indicate-as-they-change-lanes bastards and the stay-on-high-beam-regardless bastards.
It would be fun, wouldn’t it, to do it just once before you died?
Of course, that might be when you die, and why; but it would still beat dribbling your way to a slow death in a nursing home, swapping stories with some other incontinents about the terrible way people drive.