Gentle Readers. it is I, your Humble Author, back at long last with another Amusing Anecdote for your delectation.
Well, I say Amusing Anecdote – I suspect you’re going to read it in increasing horror before eventually finding the humour in it, which is what has happened to me.
I haven’t written on my blog here for some months, and that’s partly because this autumn has been a tricky one – I have been adjusting to a slight increase in my disability (I now use a stick to walk) and yet more Pandemic Horrors (will they never end?)
Anyway, incredibly long story made shorter and picking out selected “highlights”, about six months ago Casa Loops&Flicks got new neighbours. Well, we saw a moving van pull up at the house opposite and some furniture was moved in, so we presumed new neighbours. They very shortly endeared themselves to the street by having a blazing row which woke everyone up, when the husband forgot his wife’s birthday and was not appropriately contrite about it.
The argument lasted most of the night, and even moved Flicks to irritation, which is nearly impossible to do, before they piped down and disturbed us no more.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, at 8am, the doorbell rings. I am “home alone” having just stepped out of the shower and getting ready for work. But! It is December, month of Christmas, and I order all my presents online, so I suspect the doorbell is the postman with one of the deliveries I am expecting. Clad only in my towel, I limp down the stairs, to open the door. When I do this (because I’m not insensible of the fact I’m in a towel, and the interaction takes three seconds), I stand behind the door and stick my head around the edge. All I plan to do is take the parcel and say ‘Thank You’, close the door. Interaction completed, parcel retrieved.
Readers, it is not the postman. It is the forgetful husband from the house opposite. From my awkward position, I (rather confused) say, “Hello?”
“You need to move your car.”
“You need to move…this IS your car, isn’t it?” Forgetful Husband gestures to my Micra, which is parked in front of my house.
“Yes, that’s my car.”
“You need to move it.”
“OK,” I reply, feeling a bit confused by where this conversation has come from (and wondering if I had passed out and missed some of it), “but you’re going to have to give me a minute or two.”
“WELL! I have been parked here, trying to get on my driveway now for I don’t know how long, and I’m blocking the road, and you need to move your car!” He’s pointing to a silver van which is – indeed – parked in the middle of the road. Blocking the road, in fact. But the tone of voice is rude and somehow his decision to abandon his van there is implied to be my fault? And I am sure this cannot be the case – I have been showering, not driving vans.
I deploy the best weapon I have to hand – my state of undress – and step out from behind the door. “That’s fine, sir. Can I have a minute to get dressed?”
He is not expecting the fat naked lady he is confronted with. It stuns him and he stammers, “Well…I…yes.” before nearly wrenching his head off his neck as he tries to look anywhere but my doorway, now full of my glorious, Rubenesque revenge.
I thank him politely, close the door in his face and lock it and limp back up stairs to finish getting dressed. I have already decided that I am going to take the exact amount of time it usually takes me to get dressed, and that I am not going to rush, because, frankly, I don’t know what his problem is, but that was a fucking rude interaction and I’m not putting myself out for a rude, strange man.
Five minutes later, I am dressed, and I limp back downstairs and fetch my car keys. Now, quick picture guide. This is the layout of the street:
The street is now empty, with just the sad silver van sitting forlornly, driverless, in the road. I assess the situation and using my advanced angle calculating skill (GCSE Maths), work out that if I pull the car forward by it’s own length, there will be increased space across the road from the driveway Forgetful And Now Angry But Also Absent Husband is trying to park in. He should be able to pull forward and then execute the reverse around the corner parking manoeuver that we all recall from our driving tests. I do my part in this – frankly unnecessary – dance, and get out of the car.
Forgetful Angry Husband has reappeared and he looks at what I have done. He makes a scoffing noise and says, “Well THAT’s no fucking good to me, is it?”
At this point, Gentle Readers, and after contemplative reflection, I should have got back in the car and reversed back to my original space, got out the car, flicked him the Vs and said, “Not my problem you can’t drive.”
But it was EIGHT FIFTEEN IN THE MORNING and I wasn’t expecting to be spoken to like that. So I get back in my car to move again, and as I drive away, I realise that HE DOESN’T GET TO SPEAK TO ME LIKE THAT.
I circle the block, and watch as he struggles to park his van on the driveway. The moment he’s parked, I whip my car back into my usual parking spot, and get out of the car. He immediately starts yelling. “Well, how am I supposed to get out if you park there?”
I hold up my blue Disabled parking badge and say, “Sir, I am a disabled woman. I have to park here, I cannot walk long distances. I am going out again in ten minutes, after which, you will be free to come and go as you please.” I haven’t really paid him much attention up until this moment, and had initially assumed he was quite young and therefore not used to driving. It’s only now I realise that he’s probably twenty years older than me – although it’s hard to tell, as his hair is grey, and his skin is that leathery orange colour which makes men look both aged and ancient. He is either VERY new to driving having decided to tackle the skill late in life, or he is from the era of men who make jokes about women thinking the choke is to hang their handbag on.1
“So I am subject to your schedule, am I? I can only get onto my drive and leave when you’re out?” He sneers at me, as though the thought of a woman dictating his movements is both disgusting and laughable. “Yesterday, I had to park TWO STREETS AWAY!” He says ‘two streets away’ as though those two streets were located in downtown Kabul instead of a housing estate in the middle of the Devon countryside. “You should park down there!” he gestures towards the end of the road where there is space for cars – but more importantly, vans – to park.
“As I said, I AM DISABLED and cannot walk long distances. I have also lived here for nearly two years and it has NEVER been a problem before.”
“Well, the people before us didn’t have two cars.”
“Correct, they had three.”
He gapes like a fish, before blurting out something about not HAVING to buy a car that he can fit on a driveway. I am about to reply with an enquiry if he’s having a stroke because that’s a weird thing to say, when he flaps his hand in my direction and says, “Well, I am sure you’ll work out where you can park now.” and he turns and walks into his house.
And you know something, Gentle Readers? I take that invitation. I go back into the house and I weigh up my options. I think about my ill health, and my blue badge and my two years of living here with no problems, and I work out that I can park…exactly where I’ve been parking all along.
(I also check the traffic laws to check I’m not inadvertently breaking any laws I don’t know about and in the process discover that there’s actually nothing enshrined in law to stop me parking on his driveway if it were free and I felt like it.)
Anyway, he’s not dared to approach again to ask if I can move my car, and two days ago, I noticed that he managed to reverse park onto his own driveway despite my car being in its spot! I cancelled the driving lessons I got him for Christmas. Sure, his wife had to get out and talk him back into the wide driveway but you know, progress. I’m still dropping a manners book through his door for Christmas though.
I’ve highlighted the chapter on how to apologise for ungentlemanly behaviour. But I won’t hold my breath.
If you enjoy this blog, you can support it by buying me a coffee!
1 If you are such a man who thinks the choke joke is funny, I would like to invite you to take your tie out from under the collar, settle it against your neck, and pull down on the wide part until you pass out.