I could tell right away this dame was not having a good day. Equally obvious was that I was part of the empire’s downfall.
So, I’m driving along, at jogging pace, on a single-lane gravel road that has so far taken me nowhere. So completely nowhere, that now I’m retracing my steps, trying to find another way to get to my mate’s place; a joint that I know is within 400 metres of where I am right now but, thanks to the geography, is not linked to the track I’m on.
Baroness Shovestick is coming the other way, in a silver, late-model SUV (what else?) so I do what anybody else in the rest of the world does, and move over to the verge, figuring she can do the same and we can both pass safely. But no. She props in the middle of the track and she’s waving me back with both hands in that universally recognised way that suggests one of us is a peasant and it’s not her.
So, I back up, and wind down my window so she can apologise for being a dick-ette. Strewth, I’m wrong again. Instead she asks me in a voice clearly reserved for staff, if I live on this road. Nope, I tell her, I’m lost. “Did you see the sign back at the start of this road that says local traffic only?” she wants to know.
Yep, I admit, but…
She doesn’t wanna know. Just sits there shaking her head as if I’m the dumbest turnip ever to be lost in her street.
The Speaker tries to help: It’s a dead-end street, she offers.
“I know!” Madame spits through the window. “I live here.”
I have a quick think about my next move. Do I explain that I am actually local traffic right at this very moment? Do I point out that the sign said ‘local traffic only’, ‘not local residents only’? Do I ask if she’s the police or do I simply apologise for not understanding that she clearly owns the road we’re on.
In the end, it doesn’t matter because, still shaking her head, she mashes the gas on her urban-truckster and does the only smart thing she’d done so far this year. And disappears.
Now, I don’t let people like that ruin my day. Clearly, she was having a bad one herself and that’s fine, but don’t try to drag me into it. And, yes, maybe she does get a lot of lost folk down the road she lives on (although I doubt it, my mate’s place – the one I was trying to find – is pretty remote). But neither does that excuse her for assuming that (a) that I’m ignoring (advisory) road signs, or (b) that she has some kind of baronial right-of-way that doesn’t apply to us mere serfs.
I’d like to think she’ll be reading this, but I doubt it. The only magazines stacked up in her dunny would be ones with tweedy wankers shooting unicorns on the cover, or journals professing their undying love for Our Royals. Then again, if the stories therein discourage one other pair of cousins from starting a family, then they can’t be all bad.
The problem is, this dragon is not on her own. I’ve driven all over the world, and I can not think of one other country where such a territorial, belligerent, aggressive, entitled mood is the norm. And this was an elderly female with obvious signs of a comfortable and satisfying life. God forbid I ever run into one of her inbred kids.