Moving back to the UK and adjusting to an ex-ex-pat lifestyle has been hard... Much harder than I imagined it would be. As I was no longer a stranger in a strange land I thought that was the end of my blogging but today I have been reminded (not for the first time) that I'm a stranger in my own land too!
Adjusting to driving back in the UK has been a real challenge: Busy, narrow, congested roads full of aggressive drivers and that's just the residential road my house is on! I like to think it is a mere coincidence that I burst the tyres on two different cars in the space of a month. Actually, no! I should be honest. It wasn't a coincidence. I burst those tyres because the roads are ridiculously narrow and the curbs are mountainously high and the cars are too big. Not my fault! I drove the equivalent of a mini bus in the states and it was on the small side, but then the roads were vast and there were no curbs to mount. Its a challenge! I can almost see the attraction of a Smart car or a fiat Punto!
(incidentally, people were ever so kind when I burst one of the tyres on one of the cars and had to sit waiting for the AA for 4 hours! They waved and shouted profusely as they drove past as they were slightly inconvenienced at having to go round my injured vehicle!)
Remembering which side of the road to drive on is also a challenge. Even my children (who chastise me every time I swear) forgave me the expletives I expelled when hubby pulled out of a car park onto the wrong side of the road straight into oncoming traffic last week. At least I haven't done that ...yet!
I'd also forgotten how aggressive the drivers are here. Put a nice elderly gentleman behind the wheel of a shitty old car and he develops the same affliction as David Banner (I sympathise with those of you who are wondering who the f**k David Banner is. I had to google it!). There was never any road rage in Texas. At least not where the other driver lived. I remember watching the news in Houston reporting an incident where a Texan got mad at a driver for cutting him up driving on to the forecourt of a 'gas' station. He got out and banged on the offender's window. She shot him dead and the courts deemed that a suitable response given his threatening behaviour. This sort of occurrence meant that nobody on the roads gesticulated, swore or drove dangerously up your bumper (not a euphemism) when you cut them up. Nobody even made eye contact. Ever!
In Sweden I didn't meet with any aggressive drivers. Mostly because I didn't meet with any drivers at all. The roads were desolate and empty of life. Like much of Sweden! ...and there were no curb-stones! It was so much easier!
Today I did something incredibly unusual. I went to the petrol station. I usually avoid filling up the car but as I want a lift to the airport I had no choice. I wish I hadn't gone. I got called a 'f**king idiot' by David Banner. I admit I was a little flustered and distracted and may not have been paying full attention to the other drivers but I think David was a little harsh in his judgement. I drive a BMW, so by default I am automatically a wanker, but not a f**king idiot! I pulled up at the pump. As I never fill up the car I had no idea which side the fuel cap was. Of course it was on the other side of the car but I had cleverly anticipated this by parking next to a pump boasting 'Extra long hose - use both sides'. I tried to pull the hose to make it bigger (not a euphemism), to no avail. The 'kindly' old lady (Aka Davina Banner) behind shook her head repeatedly and pointed her finger a lot and gently pointed out I was parked the wrong side of the pump. I gently pointed to the sign that said the hose was extra long, whilst frantically tugging on it to try to get it to reach the car. Embarrassed and angry that either I had been misled by the signage or I was indeed a f**king idiot I gave up. To get to a different petrol pump I had to leave the petrol station, turning right on to the main road then right back into the station.
I saw a red, bumbling, little, old, knackered thing slowly coming towards me. I saw his car too. Perhaps I should have let him pass but he seemed to be going so slowly. I pulled out, drove forward and indicated to pull back in. There was loads of time and coach loads of room! The old man didn't exactly have to swerve to avoid me and the road was wide enough for him to pull up beside me... so he could wind his window down, shout 'You fucking idiot' and turn redder than the fiat f**king Punto he was driving. I smiled sweetly. I tried batting my eyelashes at him but for some reason a clump of my eyelashes have recently fallen out. It didn't do the trick. It seemed to fuel his transformation into something evil, but silly, from a Marvel comic. I tried calling him a tw*t. That did nothing to abate his deranged anger either.
Initially I was really upset by the incident. Even if it was my fault, and I am a f**king idiot, there was no real danger of an accident. No harm was done, until he raged! Then I found my self, like I so often do, missing my Texas ex-pat lifestyle. The matter would have been so easily settled on a Texan forecourt, in the blink of an eyelash deficient eye.
I wouldn't really shoot him, but imagining the outcomes of his silly tantrum elsewhere in the world cheered me up no end. He will be stressed all day, ranting to anyone he sees about the 'f**king idiot' who cut him up. Where as I have written my first blog in months and told far more people who the real f**king idiot was today!
(it's him, if you are in any doubt!!!)