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On encountering a suicidal maniac

Oh it’s YOU.

Hello and welcome to my weblog. Funny word, weblog. Dated. Looks like it’s from the 1950s. Let’s move on.

Close followers of 2008 internet sensation saulwordsworth.com will notice I haven’t blogged much of late. Some will be pleased to hear I’m about to remedy this to the tune of two blogs in one week, others less so. Either way it’s happening so get over yourselves already is it.

Today I’m here to relate my recent encounter with a madman.

Picture, if you would be so kind, the scene: a pleasant daytime drive from north London to the north Norfolk coast. No hurry, taking my time, luxuriating in my brand-new second-hand car, listening to Massive Attack. All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

On the A10 near Ely I get stuck in a line of traffic. The road is one lane with few chances to overtake. An inconvenience of course, but if you recall from the previous paragraph there’s no hurry, so please Saul, put that rather unappealing impatient streak to one side and revel in the free thinking time. Remember what David Foster Wallace said

As I’m revelling I notice in my wing mirror a tiny car drifting in and out of the oncoming traffic, making its way towards me. Soon it is behind but, barely pausing to catch its own breath is off once more, veering into the road, squeezing itself between cars coming the other way. It ducks behind the car in front, pauses briefly, then does the same again. Everyone is hooting like a bastard. Eventually it rides the slipstream of the lorry at the head of the queue before pulling out one last time, threading the needle between the lorry and an oncoming people carrier and disappearing onto the horizon. I say disappearing – it’s an underpowered vehicle and all these maneouvres have been taken at a disturbingly low speed, making them that much more dangerous.

“What a terrible cunt,” I think to myself.

After a few minutes the road widens and overtaking becomes viable. A number of vehicles make a break for it. Soon I’m behind the lorry. There’s a small opening and I’m gone. This new car has a magic button that makes everything behind disappear. It’s like a James Bond car or one from the future. It’s been so long since I had a new car I don’t know what they can do. Joan and I still lament the passing of the old Peugeot. We loved that car like a curry.

“What kind of fuckbox drives like that?” I wonder, again to myself. “He – surely it’s a he – is putting himself in serious danger, not to mention the rest of us. I’m going to find out who this arsehorse is.”

I press the button again and zoooooooooooosh five miles are gobbled up. I overtake five or six cars in my quest to hunt down the maniac, thereby blurring the line between myself (vigilante) and him (mentally deranged overtaker). Not that I care. I’ve got the bit between my teeth and it’s tastes like determination.

Outside Downham Market I spot the tiny car/massive idiot combo. I press the button one last time, hurtle towards the miscreant and drive up his backside to let him know I am there. He doesn’t notice me. I can’t see properly into his car. Something is obscuring the view.

We approach the big Downham Market intersection so beloved of intersection spotters worldwide. I pull up alongside him. What I see truly shocks me.

The offender is male – I’m right about that – but in the driving seat is the oldest man I have ever seen behind the wheel. I estimate his age at 95. He could easily be over 100. His face is fixed in a contortion of anger and misery. I doubt he’s capable of a smile. In the back of the car is some kind of pully that presumably helps get him out of the car or lifts him into a wheelchair.

It was clear this man held little store by living. He was not trying to kill himself exactly, but his interest in remaining alive was negligible. I didn’t bother admonishing him for his driving. Instead I gave him a wide berth as the lights changed and felt relief as he exited before me.

As I drove on I conjured his backstory: the pully was for his wife, who can’t walk or talk; his wife is long dead and his children hate him so he spends his days driving up and down the A10 hoping to meet his end at the hands of a long vehicle. Whatever his personal narrative when I close my eyes I see his jaw set rigid in a grimace, the misery etched on his fallen face. All hope is gone. The end is near.

He’s still a cunt though.

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With love and regards,

Saul

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