Thanks, Mr Shouty

January 8, 2010

Just in case you’ve been on Mars over the New Year – it’s been snowing.

snowy pic

It’s not just children who regard snow with wonder and awe in the UK. It’s absolutely everyone, from innocent (ahem) divorcees like me to, apparently, the Mayor of London, all gritters and salt-spreaders, train drivers, coach drivers and bus drivers. Heaven forfend anyone should actually make a plan that could keep this great capital city moving while snow falls.

Of course, we are just as surprised by all other weather conditions. Heat! Oh my goodness, all the rail tracks buckle and we run out of water. Rain! Eek, it’s all too much, we let everything flood because we forgot to clear the drains of leaves because it never rains here, does it? And did you mention leaves? Did you know these actually fall off trees and sometimes get onto train tracks? Well, that makes it impossible to run the trains because no-one could have predicted the autumn, could they?

You get  the picture. And you may sense I’m a bit annoyed. That’s because I live in the only ungritted street in Dulwich, and am about as rubbish as Bambi at moving over ice.

Mind you, even with all the gritting and salting in the world, the snow’s timing sometimes seems quite evil. On Wednesday, at exactly school run time, the snow, which had been dropping like desultory dandruff all day, suddenly got serious and came down by the bucket-load. That meant that, within ten minutes, roads which had been safe were suddenly reduced to perilous ice rinks. As we tried to get up the hill away from the school, we saw the terrifying sight of double decker buses sliding towards us – backwards, and completely out of control. Yikes! There were soon abandoned buses and cars everywhere. I grimly kept up the struggle to drive back (no way was I going to ruin my second-best boots by walking) while we started getting the first updates from fellow mums-on-the-run as piano and ballet classes were cancelled and cars were dumped by the wayside.

I count my lucky stars that I’d got stuck in similar icy conditions a week previously and had been helped by a singularly shouty man. As my tires spun on solid ice, with the car slithering from side to side and my panic levels rising to unprecedented new heights, he banged on my window. ‘Have you got experience of driving in these conditions?’ he started off. I simply stared at him  – I live in Dulwich, not Antartica, after all. There followed five minutes of solid shouting, as he rattled off instructions. ‘Foot off accelorator! I said OFF! Keep the steering wheel straight. I SAID STRAIGHT! Let the car roll. I SAID ROLL!’ At one point, I swear he actually said, ‘Do what you’re told, woman.’ Normally, a quick and painful death would obviously have followed such a remark. But the fact was that I, and the car, and Child One cowering nervously in the back, were absolutely stuck and we needed help – even shouty help.

The result was, that when we found ourselves on the frozen hill this week with the buses gliding past, I knew exactly what to do. Inside my head, as other people’s tires burnt themselves out on the ice, I was repeating the mantra, ‘FOOT OFF THE ACCELERATOR, WOMAN’, and ‘DON’T TOUCH THAT BRAKE, I SAID DON’T’.

Admittedly, it was two long hours before we got home. But get home we did, and I’d like to say a big thank you to my shouty man. Now, if he could just pop along to the Mayor’s office and have a go at Boris, maybe we could all get back to normal.

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  • Rosie Scribble January 8, 2010 at 7:12 am

    The Shouty Man sounds very like my current driving instructor, except it obviously isn’t because my instructor is female. Horrible memories are now running through my head.

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 8, 2010 at 9:52 am

      I remember having a massive argument about the Falklands with my driving instructor! That’s how old I am. He was an idiot. I eventually got a woman who was fab. I recommend changing until you get someone human – it does help xx

  • Heather January 8, 2010 at 7:27 am

    ahh the wonderful Englishness of it all, from the complete ineptitude in the face of weather (any and all kinds) to the shouty know-it-all help of middle aged men.

    I don’t miss it as much as you might think.

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 8, 2010 at 9:54 am

      Heather, you surprise me! I’m astonished you’re not booking a trip over. Mind you, if you did, you’d get stuck in the tunnel, etc etc ….I think you could probably hear Mr Shouty from over there, if you strain your ears a bit …

  • rosiero January 8, 2010 at 9:40 am

    Don’t like the sound of that double decker going backwards. How nice of that man to help you. I never know how to cope with icy conditions except to slow down to snails pace. I have been a coward this week and walked EVERYWHERE, though, like you, I am a bit of a Bambi on ice.

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 8, 2010 at 9:55 am

      I think walking at a snail’s pace is definitely the way to go at the moment, and very good anti-peanut exercise, I’m impressed! Yes, he was very kind, if a trifle loud!

  • Victoria January 8, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Sounds like half the country could do with a Shouty Man right now! I bet most people have no clue what to do when their wheels are spinning and they are slip sliding around. Maybe Top Gear needs to make a programe on how to drive in snow and ice. It would be more helpful that its usual rubbish these days.

    I’m in the Netherlands. No schools are closed. Playgrounds are like ice-rinks but the kids play out every break time. People are on their bikes still. We are waiting to see if enough canals freeze so they can do the “Eleven Cities” race – iceskating on the canals linking eleven cities together.

    The UK needs to sort itself out – hotter summers, colder snowy winters! This is the future!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 11, 2010 at 4:15 am

      OOoh, that’s a great idea about Top Gear – actually, now I come to think about it, Mr Shouty did look a bit like Jeremy Clarkson …..but a bit more irritable ….I do love Holland, lucky you living there, but be careful if you go out on your bike!

  • English Mum January 8, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Absolutely hilarious. I read the ‘do what you’re told, woman’ paragraph out to Hubby and we both howled. I actually had tears… real tears!!

    Well done, you’ve made the snow so much more bearable… you and Mr Shouty xx

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 11, 2010 at 4:16 am

      Well, if you like, I can send Mr Shouty over to you …..I’m sure he’s not busy …..very proud to have reduced you and the hubster to tears. Have fun in the snow xx

  • Brighton Mum-Teenage Angst January 9, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Ha! I think my OH must have been in Dulwich!! That sounds just like him! In fact during the snow that fell before christmas, he ‘helped’ (read: shouted!) a woman trying to get round a corner, on sheet ice, and when I just read him your version of the shouty man he replied ‘I think I might have said ‘Do as you’re told woman!’ as well, she just wasn’t listening’..see, it was him I tell you!

    • Dulwich Divorcee January 11, 2010 at 4:17 am

      OMG! It WAS your other half!! When he told you he was popping out for milk, he was actually racing over to Dulwich ….if I see him again, I’m sending him back! (hope he only shouts at strangers :))