Sunday, February 28, 2010

Against the tide

Recently I read a Jeremy Clarkson column in which he was bitching about being tormented by a white van man.

Clarkson, it seems, was driving a Rolls Royce toward London - when white van man spotted this symbol of conspicuous consumption in his rear view mirror. The resentful tradesman decided that he would spoil the Roller's day by driving quite slowly, holding the middle of the road, and refusing to let the big car past.

Being the incarnation of Wind in the Willows Toad - this infuriated Clarkson.

The solution is perhaps not obvious - certainly not to a bully who likes speeding - but here it is. The Rolls Royce is reportedly a delightful place to be - whisper quiet, very comfortable and with a particularly fine sound system. The point is that white van man may have been able to stop Clarkson driving fast - but, being subject to commercial pressures, he would not have been able to drive anywhere near as slowly. Find some nice music, and waft along comfortably. Clarkson is a wealthy and potent fellow within his sphere - the film crew or meeting he was rushing too would have waited for him. He had a quirky power which his oafishness prevented him from seeing.

All of this is leading to the point of this post. Another piece of Ross wisdom given to you free, whether you want it or not.

How to walk through a crowd. It's common in London to meet a torrent of pushy commuters vomiting out of a station mouth, all going the opposite way to which you want to. If you're not careful you can get squeezed up against a wall, or perhaps into a gutter - most likely of all you end up in an endless succession of those funny little "I'll go left, no right, no you go left..." dances we have with someone coming directly towards you. The trick I have discovered is not to look at people and to walk exaggeratedly slowly. This give you an illusion of solidity and the oncoming tide will flow around you as if you were a lamp post. Walking slowly turns out to take less time - the flood will pass.

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