The glare

There’s a chicken at the door, trying to get my attention by pecking the glass with its beak.

It’s a little bad mannered as I’m trying to think, yet convenient as I couldn’t think of how to introduce the topic of good manners, so I shall spare the chicken from my best glare and let it peck to its heart’s content.

My best glare wouldn’t stop the pecking anyway, but there are some with glares of such ferocity that if unleashed the chicken would hang up its beak in terror and pitter-patter back to the coop across the way.

These professional glarers are out there, in a mirror’s reflection perhaps, hunting for someone to take down with their perfected double squints, and on a narrow English country lane one of them got me, and got me good.

I have a defence for being defenceless, for at the time I suspected this glarer to be from the ranks of the impatient city-dweller type, locked in the biggest car comes first mode and uncaring for the etiquette of flashing lights and reversing into a passing bay if one is close by.

There was no flashing from this chap, and I didn’t flash as the closest passing place for me was a long, long way down the lane, although I did stop, which was useful as the weekender didn’t.

Onward he drove, all grill, badge and freshly valeted, coming at me, me in my grubby, dear wee motor, with his foot on the accelerator, just as my foot was on mine, only I was in reverse, having to take a bend backwards at the speed of going forwards until finally the hedgerow curved outwards and I swung into it like a stuntman, sure I would receive a smile and four fingers raised above the steering wheel, and perhaps the lowering of the window and a few jolly words.

‘Thank you,’ is the accepted currency in most parts, while, ‘have a great day’ helps with letting folk part with no ill feeling.

My payment was a glare; a dirty, give me my Christmas bonus glare of I’m right, you’re wrong, so there. I had my own glare … somewhere … only somewhere had gone on holiday, my eyebrows didn’t care to be raised and my tut had abandoned me.

Off the glarer went in his beast of a vehicle that would have long forgotten it was born with power supplied to all four wheels, leaving me in the hedge and needing to calm down, and then calm down again when I found my adversary had been a mere bend in the road from a gap fit for a bus.

The insolence didn’t get to my car, but it did get to me, when farther down the lane came another badge … another German one. My French badge rallied and wasn’t going to yield, even though I should have done as I had just passed a spot I could have fit snugly into with little fuss.

But the foreign badger flashed and reversed, and reversed and kept on reversing, hugging the hedgerow so that I could be selfish and pass.

I had three fingers at the ready (four was too many as I was still annoyed) and up they went, and with a smile too, though it felt like a grimace.

The other driver smiled, a proper smile, one generous not thrifty, and our encounter approached its end, with me getting the upper hand I deserved, and all because of the city type, because that’s how it works.

Squeezing through, watching my wing mirror as it almost kissed the one being tucked in, I thought I was in the clear.

And then it happened … the realisation I’d been an arse.

The neighbouring window slid to the bottom and the driver said thank you as though I was the one helping him, and then the passenger did, and then the two children in the back leaned forward and joined in, and finally, I heard four words that stung even more than the kids’ smiles, as the driver said, ‘Have a great day’.

I drove on in shame, catching in my mirror the sight of the car scraping free of the hedge and edging back onto the road, a road that would reveal the passing space that greed told me not to take.

I tried to forget my rudeness and thought I had with music and head chatter about a balance being restored, but the chicken at the door spotted me and reminded me I should not.

It is still pecking now, and may well still be pecking when I am back in the city, and there is another impatient type sitting where I am, unable to concentrate and needing a lesson in good manners.