Saturday, 27 August 2011

I hate . . . Drivers Wearing Hats

Why would anyone hate drivers wearing hats? It's because in my experience, they are pretty much all one of two types:

Chav Corsa with rear wing (it's front wheel drive!)
From (Ads NSFW).

1. The Extremely Old
They have been driving since before there was a requirement to take a test, and their Rover or Honda has covered 3,000 miles from new in 15 years. Despite all this experience, the Extremely Old will still tend to set out during rush hour.

Old car in immaculate condition. Average speed around half the speed limit. Tweed caps (men), sensible bonnets (women). Usually in front of you.

Driving Style
  • Extremely slow in all conditions
  • Likely to be in middle lane of 3 lane motorways.  As they are doing 35mph, cannot pull back in due to the steady stream of trucks going past on the inside.
  • Random signals including leaving indicators on for 8 miles, or not at all.

The Dangers
While not a significant danger themselves (too slow for that) their driving style causes other road users to take actions they would normally avoid:
  • Overtaking on the wrong side, on bends, at junctions. Anywhere to get past and make some progress
  • Speeding, after having managed to get past, to make up lost time
  • Deliberate ramming (in extreme cases)

2. The Yoof (AKA Chav or Douche Bag)
Driving since last week (legally) or for 4 years (illegally), the Yoof is generally found in small packs. Unlike the Extremly Old, the Yoof can be found in all locations, at any time of the day or night.

Also tends to drive an older car, but usually a cheap Vauxhall Nova or similar. The car will generally have been modified: badges removed in a vain attempt to disguise it, large exhaust end, glued on spoiler or rear wing from a completely different vehicle. Driver will usually be wearing a cap just slightly too large for them, normally backwards or sideways. Synthetic materials are obligatory.
Can often be head coming before seen due to the holes punched in the exhaust to make it sound sportier.

Driving Style
  • Will attempt to drive fast, but is often limited by the 1.1 litre engine. 
  • Creeps forward over the line at red lights, but still pulls away slowly
  • Will drive within 6 inches of the car in front
  • If encountered with another Yoof, frequent overtaking is mandatory.

The Dangers
Much more dangerous to themselves and other road users:
  • Will refuse to let anyone pass them, especially other Yoofs, so expect blocking manoeuvres
  • Will do 50 in most 30 zones (but not so dangerous on motorways as cannot go over 80 mph)
  • Has no concept of a blind corner, or being able to brake (on bald tyres) in the distance they can see

Dealing with hat wearing drivers
Tactics for the two are similar: avoid at all costs. For the Extremely Old, overtake when safe, but be aware everyone else wants to do the same thing. For the Yoof, avoid altogether - best wait until they go the other way. Tends to drive in random circles, so often easily avoided.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

I hate . . . Airports

I hate airports - and the addition of lacklustre Christmas decoration does nothing to increase their charm
I enjoy travelling - seeing new places, trying new foods, experiencing different cultures. I even enjoy the travelling part - driving through new scenery and the surge of power as an aeroplane takes off.

But what I really cannot stand is airports. I had the misfortune to be stuck at one for about 6 hours the other day - a combination of a delayed flight and getting an early lift. It's a miserable waste of time that sucks so much of the pleasure out of travelling.

First of all is the queues. Queues for everything. To check in, for baggage, for security, for boarding. Then there is the irritating and illogical security procedures. I'm pretty used to the things you can't take on board, but so many of them make no sense. Nail scissors? Dangerous weapons! Half drunk coffee from one of the terminal shops? Probably an explosive! (even if you are still sipping it).

What made me laugh was that you can get metal cutlery in any of the shops in the secure area. They are blunt, but 10 minutes and a bit effort would get you an edge or point. Of course, it would not do you any good, as the new on-board security prevent access to the flight deck anyway.

Then there is airport design. They are big buildings - I suppose they have to be accommodate the gates - but I'm sure they make them bigger than required purely to drag you past all these shops. You are a captive audience, and they really want you to buy overpriced rubbish. I especially hate the duty free shop in most airports, designed so you have to walk through it, with banners screaming special offers that are not so special if you could compare them to the supermarket down the road.

Lastly there are the waiting area. Waiting is what you do in airports, so you would expect the most attention paid to it. Instead you get limited, uncomfortable seating, food service that seems to only supply reheated, poor quality food that is massively overpriced, and hundreds or thousands of surly customers and staff.

Yes, I hate airports. Next time, I think I'll walk - or swim.

UPDATE: See Joe the Peacock Yay Rules of air travel for a really useful list of things to do in the airport to make other passengers lives easier.