I had to do it to preserve my sanity.
You would think that the older one becomes the calmer and more magnanimous a driver one would be. And, in general, in my case, it is true. I have slowed down considerably since the days when it was vitally important to get to the Clonee turn off on the N3 before the white van trundling along at a mere 90km per hour.
Nowadays, such things are unimportant. The lights at the end of the slip road are bound to be red anyway and the risk of a speeding fine is not worth the three seconds I might gain from an overtaking manoeuvre.
I do however, have one pet hate and one that churns away in my head when I am cruising up and down that superhighway known as the New Ongar Road. This is the driver that uses the inside lane at traffic lights to avoid waiting in a queue like the rest of us for the lights to turn green.
It is usually a man and often well-dressed and middle-aged in an Audi or similar vehicle. Not for him being seventh in a queue of cars waiting to pass the Hartstown turn off. I mean, how could a man in his position be expected to simply idle in a queue of plebs like us?
No sirree. He’ll turn into the left-turning lane and when the lights finally turn green, he’ll zip out ahead of the posse, like Dick Dastardly in the Wacky Races cartoons of the 1970s. I imagine him curling the ends of his thin moustache and laughing cruelly to himself as he ecstatically glances in his rear view mirror at the suckers trailing despondently in his wake.
The problem is that Dick Dastardly always got his come-uppance, driving into a tree or running headlong into an avalanche. As I have mentioned in this column more than once, no such calamity ever befalls Mr. Audi driver.
It is strange though how the focus of my ire is not trained on the car in question but upon the driver ahead who lets him regain the correct lane. If the first car in my lane does not hit the accelerator like Lewis Hamilton on the starting grid at Monza, I, with no sense of fairness at all, let forth a string of impotent curses at his ineptitude.
Of course, what I would hope to happen in my little Utopian world, is that the cars in the straight lane would be quick off the mark and form a human shield, or possibly a car shield, to force Mr. Audi driver to remain in the bus lane, where he would fall foul of the traffic policeman, waiting with notebook in hand. You would think I would have learned by now that this will never happen.
So I, and I suspect many others who feel morally affronted by such behaviour, am left to rage impotently in our cars while the baddie in the piece gets away with it yet again.
It was while raging impotently at just such a particularly brazen piece of driving that I had one of those Archimedes in the bath tub moments, though I restrained myself from leaping from my Yaris and running naked up the cycle path.
I couldn’t wait to get home. I dashed in through the front door, whistled gaily at my wife and kissed the canary and then proceeded to rummage through the box of “bits of paper that might come in useful later.” I found it near the bottom.
List of evening classes at Hartstown Community School, I read. I turned to Monday. No joy. Tuesday. Wednesday. No, it wasn’t there.
I was just about to throw the leaflet in the bin when I saw it out of the corner of my eye. It was in between Wine Appreciation and Woodturning but it was only there if you pretended you were looking at something else and looked at it sideways. Witchcraft!
“Come along next Monday night at 7.30pm,” said the old crone-like voice on the other end of the phone, which caused me some surprise, as I’d only just picked up the receiver.
“What should I wear?” I stammered, wondering if the black pointed hat was strictly necessary.
“Clothes,” replied the puzzled voice and hung up.
Nervously I presented myself in the classroom the following Monday night. I had been somewhat apprehensive about walking through the seemingly solid wall behind the school notice board but I concentrated furiously on the photo of the U12 hockey team and the wall just seemed to swallow me up.
“Today, we’re going to do curses,” said the teacher, who did not have a long hooked nose and black cat but looked for all the world like Marion Finucane. I glanced around at my fellow classmates. They seemed like ordinary people that you might bump into in the street, if your foot-eye coordination wasn’t very good. I saw at least one local councillor, a girl who works in Eurospar and a woman whom I had beaten to the last tin of pineapples in Dunnes two weeks previously.
Sadly, I am debarred from giving details in the local newspaper of how to perform the curses that we learned. We were advised to use them sparingly as we were only permitted to use one a month in the outside world and it was inadvisable to waste it on, say, someone who had beaten you to the last tin of pineapples in the supermarket. Here, the woman beside me shifted uncomfortably and the large boil on my backside flared up again.
The scope of the curses available to the part-time witch is actually quite impressive. You could visit a large wart on the end of somebody’s nose; or allow them to only speak Serbo-Croat; or make a large bogey appear at the bottom of their nose when they are talking to someone they fancy; or give them a flatulence problem when they are in the middle of an important interview; or instill in them a love of St Patrick’s Athletic. The list is endless.
I am also forbidden from revealing who I use the curse upon, which is a small price to pay from the sheer joy of reeling off my long-rehearsed and now extremely potent curse at the Hartstown turn off on the New Ongar Road. It was a delicious moment and I can’t wait for my November curse to become around.
Suffice to say that if you are an Audi driver whose iPod earpiece has recently become firmly wedged in their ear and you are unable to turn off Lionel Richie’s “Hello” on constant repeat, then next time have a bit of patience and wait your turn like the rest of us.