Two or three minutes out of home, and the journey nearly ends.
As it says somewhere, the Book of Common Prayer perhaps, in the midst of life we are in… bloody hell, would you take a look at this idiot.
Missing from the above is the word ‘death’, unless you are reading the Book of Clint Eastwood, when the quote is “In the midst of life we are in debt…” (The Outlaw Josey Wales).
The afternoon’s outlaw is driving some category of Honda, the Honda Death Star at a guess, and is propelling himself towards me on the wrong side of the road.
A short way from home, this road leads to a commuter village on the far side of the ring-road. Mostly the road is straight, but there are a couple of bends, and as I emerge from the first of these, the Honda is busy overtaking three or four cars and a tractor.
There is not much to do, apart from pray to that unfollowed God, and touch the brakes while hoping not to touch the sky. The hurtling car hurtles closer. At the last second, and there was one of those otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here tapping out these words, the driver pulls over, but not before I have blown that last trumpet known as my horn.
The Honda Death Star slips in front of the tractor, and the driver acknowledges my dismay with a cool little no-worries wave, what’s a near death crash between friends, and off he goes.
Before that I’d been wondering what to write the next time I sat down on this ledge. I’d just remembered the pocket atlas, the one I took with me for subbing shifts on The Observer all those years ago. The world in a small book, ideal for those who mistake Iraq for Iran, a distinction as important now as it was then.
I also went armed with a pocket dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors. Only the writers’ book remains, a useful work of reference, but so old it predates the internet and all the chaos it unleashed.
When I did those shifts, I knew even less than I do know, so that small atlas was useful for sticking masking tape over geopolitical gaps. Such gaps remain and lie behind a reluctance to be confident about the world now.
But I am happy to suggest that any world in which Donald Trump seems happy to assassinate the military leader of another country is not a safer place than it was before he ordered that hit.
Did Trump have Qasem Soleimani killed purely to deflect attention from his own troubles, and to boost his chances of re-election? It seems likely, but it’s hard to be sure about the wider world when you are still trying to untangle events in your own country.
Many of the newspapers here blindly support Boris Johnson. The Mail on Sunday said at the weekend that the prime minister was “jetting back” from his holiday – is that the same as routinely flying home from your pampered Caribbean break when the holiday ends, only with a flattering slick of urgency? Oh, who knows?
And the Boris-parading Sun proclaimed Trump’s ‘bravery’. Yeah, very brave to order a hit by a robot assassin while sitting in your country club, one rogue drone talking to another.
Those are all the opinions I have going spare, apart from a few choice observations about idiots who overtake dangerously.
All drivers are idiots sometime or other, but I am too cautious about overtaking to be that idiot.