Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sunday Scribblings - Driving Left - 11/11/07



I lived in England for six years and surprisingly had little problem adjusting to driving on the “wrong” side of the road. My initial arrival was on the ferry to Felixstowe from Zeebrugge Belgium. They make the transition very easy. You drive off the ferry and there you are on the left-hand side of the highway and on your way. I had a few minor setbacks particularly when I was very tired or was on unmarked, unlit country roads at night.






The one glaring exception was in August of 1983. I drove a group of three friends to Castle Donington to attend the Monsters of Rock Concert. Whitesnake, Twisted Sister, ZZ Top, Ronnie Dio, Meat Loaf (one of my all-time favorite performers), Diamond Head, Ritchie Blackmore, and others took the stage while many thousands of us imbibed and ingested a multitude of mind-expanding, mind-altering, and mind-numbing substances.
When the concert ended well into the night, the throngs began to disperse. Intoxicated by the music, atmosphere, and whatever chemicals were flowing through our veins, it was decided that we were too far-gone to attempt the long drive back to Ipswich. England was way ahead of the states in penalties for driving impaired.


So we all crawled into the car and in minutes were in various states of sleep, stupor, and coma. I awoke about daylight and feeling renewed, though not necessarily so, I decided to let the others sleep as I piloted us home. I turned onto the M1 Motorway and had driven several miles when my copilot awoke, somewhat, and after observing our progress for a few minutes remarked how odd it was that all the road signs were turned around backwards. “Oh my God”, raced through my groggy brain. I was driving down one of Britain’s major highways on the wrong side of the road. The American equivalent would be driving down I-95 against traffic. Luckily, unlike I-95, at that time on a Sunday morning that section of the M1 motorway was deserted and unpatrolled. This saved not only our lives, but more important, the embarrassment that only extreme stupidity can afford. Though, now, immediately stone sober, sweating profusely, and ghostly white, I performed an incredible 180 degree maneuver, nearly on two wheels. Unfortunately I had to drive several miles back to the next exit before I could send us back in the right direction. The corpses in the back did not stir and later when we recounted the episode to them, they did not get the full effect of the horror we experienced. This writing is the first account of that experience ever documented. I am hoping the statute of limitations has expired and that England does not extradite for stupidity.

I would like to make one comment about driving in England. I much prefer the roundabout to American signal lights. The roundabouts keep the flow of traffic much smoother, even in the congestion of London.

13 comments:

Lucy said...

great story, it brought to mind one of my favorite scenes in the movie 'tranis,planes and automobiles'. When the couple is yelling to John Candy... YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY and he says How do they know where we're going! haha

paisley said...

wow... i was entertained till i saw that massive conglomeration of lights telling everyone (and no one) what to do.. then,, i must say i became inordinately confused!!!!!

Gemma said...

This is hilarious...I never could figure all those roundabouts and driving on the wrong side of the road too!Oops!

tumblewords said...

Oh, funny - at least in retrospect! I can imagine your fear - that's a scary tale which only turns funny through the outcome and your fine writing!

Rena said...

Another great Sunday Scribbling. I agree, roundabouts should be utilized way more often.
Just wanted to tell you I've enjoyed reading your blog. For some reason, whenever I open your site on my computer it causes my whole internet connection to shut down. So I don't get the chance to come here very often. But I've always wanted to say that your story of the McDonald's mix-up was one of the funniest things I've read and my husband loved your one act play. Your hospital post was very touching too. Great job!

Redness said...

That is a total classic!!! Brilliantly told, Thank YOU!

myrtle beached whale said...

Rena: thanks so much for letting me know that my blog is possessed and causes your computer to self-destruct. No wonder hardly anyone reads my blog if you have to read it at your own peril. Anyone else who has a similar problem please let me know. I am curious.
All of you: Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It means a lot to me.

Left-handed Trees... said...

That traffic light was one of the most confusing I've ever seen! Oh my...
Love,
D.

Inland Empire Girl said...

I agree about the roundabouts. We have two now on 395 going through Colville it has helped so much.

khambagirl said...

Great story! I like round-abouts, as well. You just have to know the rules for using them. In some countries, the person IN the round-about has the right of way. In other places, the person entering has the right of way.

Just Jen said...

Seriously! That's their signal lights! That's insane!

myrtle beached whale said...

no Jen, it is a sculpture, but looks very real and confusing.

click Myrtle Beach Homes for Sale Near the Beach said...

great a story and also great hair also !