Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Driving in the "wrong" side of the road

Biggest I ever drove? Not a chance. I also had a go on a Olympian 11000 cc.

This topic comes with an extra amount of inspiration...I just did roundabout anti-clockwise before I got home!
I Drove for more than twenty years whitout a major accident. The odd smashed indicator, I must admit, but generally I thought I was a great deal of a Driver.What an illusion. Suddenly , when we start attacking the roads of England, we become worst than a daft braindead Sunday driver.Terrible!

The most laughable part, is that I keep reaching the nearside door of the car, as I was used to.Then I miss the steering wheel ! This of course generates giggles from everyone, and I have no other option but to go around the car , my head down covered in shame, and get the hell out of there as fast as I can.

When we first arrive in England, it is only natural that we dont have a car, unless we brought one from our country. Daft thing one should try to do I must say, given the appetite for destruction of the poor anti-social souls that improvise all sorts of wrongdoings just because they are bored. A foreigner car left unattended in an isollated area would provide them a white canvas upon they could express their frustration. And then there is the driving itself, where we would have to overtake stopped buses and lorries completely blind, and alight passengers directly to the middle of the road. No. For some reason, it doesn´t appeal to much.It wont do.

So, there is only one vehicle left , which is the most popular mean of transportation to a newcomer in Brittain: The pushbike. This is an excellent introdutory vehicle to whoever wants to start driving on the "wrong" side of the road. In case of starting our journey on the opposite side of the road, as we would do in our country, or entering a one way system by the wrong end, we have the opportunity to jump immediatly to the sidewalk whitout being runned down by a doubledecker or whitout destroying the corner shop in the process.

This is how I came up with a simple way of remembering which is the correct side to drive in each country: Cars, lorries and buses are designed to allow passengers to alight directly to the sidewalk. So, I created a simple sentence, which I keep in my mind all the time when i'm driving: " Give him the kerb" . So, if I keep the car on the side of the road that would allow my side passenger to enter or alight from the kerb, I would be allright. Of course, this is only valid if I'm driving a right hand driving car in Brittain.Or a Left hand drive one in the continent.

As the time went by, my legs and body were starting to take the toll of early morning freezing and raining journeys to work. So I decided that I certainly wanted to get my hands on any old banger that would be able to haul me from A to B. I managed to find a free Vauxhall Cavalier which was doomed for scrap, after had caught fire on the wiring loom and had the windows put trough so the yobs could nick the wireless. As an automotive engineer, I was able to troughouly repair it on my back street, and it provide me thousands and thousands of reliable motoring for my first couple of years.

There I went, reaching everytime for the nearside door, and if not, start performing all sorts of nonsense once at the wheel. I would relentelessly scratch my right fist on the door looking for the gear selector, opening the passenger power window, and indicating with the wipers. More than often, a very angry bald driver would make unkind gestures towards me and summoning me back to my homeland, just because I happened to be traveling dangerously on his direction. How inconsiderate of him!

Then, in one of the thousand different roundabouts you are bound to find, I struggled to interpretate all the different arrows in the pavement and make up my mind. How easy it is in the continent! Just go around , the closest possible to the kerb, and go out in the exit you want.How difficult can that be? Here, no way. You must go inside, and then, in the last minute pull to the outside of the roundabout to exit. So, I have all sorts of drivers honking at me furiously, and overtaking me. Good. Now I can follow them!

The spooky and menacing grinding noise that came from the gearbox, kept telling me that my left arm was still trying to come to terms of being used so often. Normally, I would only use it to open the door. Damn. Not even when I was twelve, and had a go with an old Renault 12 with my mates I remember driving so badly. What a complete useless thick driver!
The traffic lights, strangely change from red to yellow, before the so much waited green. Not as I was used to back in my end of the woods, where the green would appear like a lightining bolt, originatting a fierce fight to see which driver was the fastest. And loads of horning. So, when I first saw the yellow, there I was stopping, only to find that was actually changing to green, and everybody was storm passing me.

I would strongly encorage everybody that would want to drive in Brittain, to buy a copy of the Highway code. Its amaizing what you could still learn.
Just to end: I read somewhere that driving on the left side of the road was originally because of the carriage drivers using the whip with the right hand that would caught the pedestrians. Nowadays, there are dozens of countries that still drive like England, and practically every major car manufacturer provides Right Hand Drive models on their ranges.Nevertheless, in the continent we still drive in the "right" side...


Paulo said...

Traduza em Português por favor!!!
Ainda por cima nesta altura em que o acordo ortográfico vem outra vez à baila.
Um abraço Paulo Silva

Mike Silva said...

OK, tenho de fazer a tradução. Era apenas para dar a conhecer aos meus amigos britânicos quais as minhas reacções e impressões acerca de conduzir no lado"errado" da estrada.