Anyone would think from the gallons of ink spilt and acres of newsprint consumed recently that the only people who ever violated the traffic regulations in London’s streets were the cyclists steaming through red lights. Yes, that’s annoying, and I’ve blogged about it myself, but consider this. When I cycle and I wish to turn I have to signal by taking my hand off the handlebar while simultaneously steering, braking and looking behind me – no mean feat for someone as unco-ordinated as I am. Yet I do it*. Car drivers can indicate by just flipping a little lever by the steering wheel. So do they? Do they buggery. I’ve lost track of the amount of time I’ve spent in a frenzy of impatience waiting to cross the road to get to Kew Bridge station before my train leaves, unable to risk nipping across against the lights because the cars there indicate on a strictly need-to-know basis where pedestrians most definitely don’t need to know.
There’s a neat little gesture people use in Southern Africa to let you know that you’ve left your indicators on (most drivers in Swaziland at least took a rather casual approach to the need to pass a driving test) – one hand out, opening and closing the fingers like a starfish. However there’s another, less nice, but rather more common hand gesture we Brits use to indicate that you may not have behaved with the utmost courtesy to your fellow human being. And that’s probably the one I’ll be using the next time someone decides that their decision to make a left turn should be a delightful surprise to all and sundry.
* er, most of the time. I mean if there’someone coming who might want to know. And the roads aren’t too wet and slippy.