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Thursday 27th January 2005

I was held up by another accident on the drive to Northampton. In fact I very nearly added to it. I was driving along a very clear and dark A43, merrily singing "Waterloo Sunset" which had chanced to come up on my iPod and which coincidentally I had chosen as my favourite London song in an interview a couple of days ago. My concentration clearly wasn't all it could be. I was going quite fast (obviously at no more than the speed limit, exactly, whatever that would have been. I'm not the kind of person who would be going at 80mph on an A road and anyone who says I am is lying) and became vaguely aware of some lights in the near distance that I couldn't quite make sense of. Which was strange because after what seemed like a couple of seconds I realised they were the rear lights of some cars that had stopped.
I had to execute an emergency stop for the first time outside of my driving lessons/driving test. Not going at 80mph as I was this was quite an exhilirating experience and the car and brakes made some interesting sounds. But luckily my car is a good one and it stops very efficiently and I came to a halt with about ten feet to spare.
My heart was beating a little with the excitement, especially when I considered what would have happened if I had snapped back into focus two or five seconds later. It must be a rare occurrence for a car to smash into another without even applying its brakes, but I suspect it would make quite a mess. Not a mess that I would directly probably ever have to worry about, but a mess nevertheless.
My mum worries about me driving around the country in the dark. She enjoys the worry. Worry is like a pornography of the soul for the elderly. So I am sure this story will have added to her enjoyment.
I am 37 years old. I have told my mum and the more she voices her concernthe more erratically I intend to drive. So this is just the start of it, old woman. Next time I am going to speed up and attempt a Dukes of Hazard style leap over the stalled traffic (the jam was at least half a mile long and there was no discernable ramp, so I might have found that tricky).
In truth I contain some of the same genes as my mother and have thus inherited her overbearing caution and am actually a pretty safe driver. It's amazing how just a couple of seconds inattention can lead to disaster though. Think of the poor innocent idiots in the landrover in front of me, who would have a VW Gold automatic embedded in the backs of their heads through no fault of their own had I been daydreaming more effectively. Our lives hang by a fragile thread and are fairly dependent on the whims of idiots.
But my relief at being not mashed up into a pulp was soon overtaken by my anxiety that I wouldn't get to the gig on time. All thanks to the inconsiderate idiots up front who hadn't been sharp enough to avoid crashing their cars. Life very quickly goes on. At least for the people behind the small pile up that I would eventually pass.
I was delayed by half an hour or so, but I was going on last so it didn't actually matter.
Were the people of Northampton worth risking my life for in this fashion?
No. Obviously not.
Though I managed to avoid dying on stage by about the same margin as I'd avoided dying on the A43.
Metaphorically. I didn't avoid dying on stage by ten feet. That makes no sense.
The gig was fine and much better than my bloodied corpse could have managed.
Drive carefully now everyone.

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