Hubby has recently moved on from merely complaining about stuff especially pot holes, road surfaces, weather and the economy and developed a sort of road rage Tourette’s whereby he will hurl abuse not only at other motorists who wind him up but at cyclists or motorcyclists on the road. I happen to know he actually bears them no malice. In ordinary circumstances he wouldn’t notice them, but he is a Grumpy and Grumpies get annoyed for all sorts of reasons. His fury and exasperation stems from overcrowded roads, vans that tailgate him for miles as he drives down potholes and navigates uneven surfaces, windscreens that get smashed thanks to grit piled in the centre of the road thrown up by frustrated motorists who zip past him at any opportunity…well, you get the picture.
Cyclists and motorbikes are just another irritation to add to the many in his life. Most weekends we are plagued by them. No sooner do we get out of our drive, than we have to navigate bends and overtake huge groups of lycra-clad bottoms or worse still, follow them for several miles until an opportunity presents itself and we can get past, or are overtaken in turn, by gangs of motorcycles using the road as a racecourse.
Last weekend was no exception. We exited our drive and were promptly forced into the side of the road by an oncoming Landrover that hurtled towards us, taking up our side of the road. Hubby’s face set. I could tell it was going to be a bad morning.
He chuntered for the next mile, moaning about the potholes he points out to me religiously every time we take that route. He picked his way down the lane, trying not to jolt the car too much. It’s quite elderly and bits of it will fall off if we go too quickly over humps and bumps in the road. I know better than to interrupt. It was only going to be a matter of time before he came up against something else to annoy him.
Sure enough, a throaty burbling alerted me to the fact a motorbike was gaining on us. Hubby began his usual tirade about motorbikes. As the bike attempted to overtake us on a bend, Hubby muttered, “Oh no you don’t, Matey,” and sped up to prevent the manoeuvre. The bike clung to our rear bumper, rumbling like an enormous angry hornet. Determined not to let the bike overtake us, we zoomed along the twisty lanes at high speed. I clutched the door handle as we swung round bends, tyres squealing. It was like a bizarre chase scene from a movie, the bike sticking determinedly to our rear as we hurtled around the lanes. Hubby began muttering and before long was shouting about ‘mad bikers’. I glanced in my wing mirror. The biker was so close he could probably see Hubby mouthing off. I slunk down in my seat. Hubby continued yelling, red-faced. I tried to hide under the dashboard. “Shh!” I cautioned. “Calm down. Don’t annoy him.”
“Why not. Flipping bikers, they fly around these lanes without any consideration,” he retorted. “Daft mid-life crisis that’s what they’re all having.”
“That may be the case but that motorcyclist having a crisis, is our neighbour.”
Hubby looked surprised. “It is?”
“Yes, I noticed the bike outside his garage, and saw him in his leathers coming out of his house when we left ours.”
“He has a bike?”
“I didn’t know that.”
“He got it for his birthday.”
Hubby slowed a little and succeeded in turning what was about to be his universal sign for ‘get stuffed, you idiot’ into a cheery wave as the man gathered pace and finally overtook us. He left us in a cloud of exhaust fumes. I’m pretty certain the hand gesture he returned wasn’t a wave, although Hubby seemed to think otherwise.
“Well, that’s okay then,” said Hubby, slowing the car back down to a respectable fifty miles an hour.
I’m not so convinced. I’m not looking forward to bumping into our neighbour. I think I’ll hide until they’ve both forgotten about it. Really, grumpy old men should be careful who and what they rant about. It might just make someone else grumpy.