“I Didn’t Actually Hit You”
Gah! You could be forgiven if you’ve just read my earlier oh-the-Zen-of-cycling post that today was a perfect day to be out on two wheels. Indeed, in many ways it was . . . apart from the fact that the Mafia have obviously just increased the bounty on my head.
In all I had three more-than-half-hearted attempts to rub me out:
- This morning in Blyth. Nice lady had been patient and waited behind me untill it was really, really safe to pass. Frustrated taxi driver behind her just had to get past as soon as possible after she’d got out of th e way. He pulled level with me as we approached a junction, and then proceeded to try to turn across me. No, not in front of me, but actually to pass through my front wheel. Fortunately I’d heard him coming, looked twice over my shoulder to give him my best Paddington Bear Hard Stare, and realised that for this driver, the lights were on, but no-one was at home. Just as fortunately, Siegfried has a VERY LOUD BELL. As I yanked on the brakes, I made like a country church ringing a full change , and the taxi stopped before hitting me. The fee-paying passenger looked pretty shaken up at all this, and the taxi driver had that "What are you looking at me for?" face that only the honest, hard-working tax-payers of the road can wear with just cause. Gimp.
- This evening I was pretty tired on the way home, and opted to nip in-land and through the centre of Whitley Bay. Riding up Park View, a car turned across in front of me from the other direction. No problem - it was closer than I’d have liked, but there was still enough room. There wasn’t enough room though for the guy driving the white van behind him, who tried to follow. Hardly any time for me to brake, and no time for the bell, I opted for the other warning method - the Sargeant Major’s magaphone. The van stopped, with the driver giving me the same, "What? No, really, what?" look as I passed.
- Then finally, passing in front of the HSBC Bank, while I w as still shaken from the previous incident, another white van came blasting past me, really very, very too close for comfort. He continued and accelerate through the amber light at the junction, and I stopped at the red. Half a mile down the road, I saw the same van parked up, with the driver fiddling with his SatNav. By this point I’d had enough, and stopped to take some pictures for some suitably flattering online advertising (something along the lines of, "Use our courier service only if you’re daft enough to believe that we give a F**k"). Sadly, the flash on my company Blackberry isn’t up to ourdoor night time photography, and all I achieved was to attract the attention of the driver. He got out and asked why I was photographing him, so I told him that he’d passed me way, way too close a few hundred yards back. His response? "What’s your problem? I didn’t actually hit you".
Now the funny thing is, I’ve never come across that before.
"I didn’t actually hit you "
I was at a loss for words. So much so that when I got home, I used the Power of Twitter to ask what the correct response etiquette demands of such blatant arseholery. The best one came from John The Monkey :
Ask when they’d passed their test. Then ask if they’d have passed with that overtake.
There were also several variants on pretend to hit the guy and stop mm / inches from face and say, "Well, I didn’t hit you". This is also quite tempting, but it needs more force behind it - a fist not hitting the face is a mere drop in the ocean compared with several tons of van not hitting a person on a bike.
What I’d like to do is to get the driver to hold a cigarette in their lips, and then retire twenty paces before pulling out a gun.
"Now hold perfectly still, and don’t do anything I don’t expect, and everything will be perfectly OK. I promise you that so far, I’ve never fatally wounded anyone doing this trick . . . "
… but hand guns are quite rightly illegal in this country. So maybe I’d better start carrying a longbow on the bike?