There is a narrow road with cars parked on both sides near my house. Buses and lorries often try to thread their way through and hold-ups are frequent. Sometimes careless drivers get stuck half way along the 200 yard “gauntlett” stretch facing a vehicle attempting to come the other way. The resulting standoff can last several minutes as cars queue up behind in both directions.
The result is fuming exhausts and even more fuming drivers while smirking pedestrians try not to show too much amusement at the resulting display of fallen human nature.
Yesterday, I pulled into a gap to let a delivery van pass in the opposite direction and a driver (gender unspecified to avoid prosecution) selfishly overtook me and blocked the way to oncoming traffic. I leapt out and tried to share a few choice insights about road etiquette but she pressed the central locking and stared straight ahead.
She is doubtless convinced she escaped death from road rage by a whisker and that my shapeless anorak was shielding at least a murderous axe or possibly a suicide bomb belt. My wayward beard may give the impression that I am a fanatical Jihadist after all.
Yes folks, overtaking in London can seem dangerous. Overtaking in Baghdad, however, is lethal. There was a news report about six months ago about a carful of men being shot up by US troops as they overtook them. Ironically, they were going home from a funeral but they all died because the nervous Americans thought they might be lining up for an attack. I was reminded of this story by this article on the BBC site.
So little real news is coming out of Iraq now and we have to thank one brave Iraqi reporter for this story. If there is one thing more dangerous than overtaking in Iraq it is truth telling.