A crazy woman is living inside my head. It’s not just the normal crazy woman who camps out there from time to time and argues about parking tickets. It’s a new crazy woman who thinks she can avoid parking tickets by fighting men in the street. Physically, with her bare hands. Is this what they mean by ‘empowerment’?
You will feel wonderfully empowered, they keep telling me. They being women who have been through the change of life before me. Well, all I can say is, if I go on getting any more empowered I am going to wind up in jail.
In my latest adventure, I picked a fight with two burly cab drivers who were blocking the road outside my house. And just to be clear, I haven’t been taking any kind of testosterone supplement, which is apparently an option. Personally, I can’t see how it can be at all legal to give an aggression-related hormone to a woman who is already turning into an ape, but there we are.
Readers who have very kindly written to me with suggestions of how I might navigate my way around this awkward juncture have suggested many different cocktails, plant and artificial, and I have taken note of them all. But the one thing I’m pretty sure I don’t need is something to pump me up. And when you hear about this I’m sure you will agree with me.
I was sitting in the back of the slowest cab in the world, which was attempting to drive me from the Sky studios in Isleworth to my home in Balham via, for some reason, Sheen. Now, of course, if the driver had asked me I would have told him to avoid the A205. I would have said, ‘That way madness lies.’ But he didn’t. And by the time I looked up from my iPhone and realised we had been meandering through that lovely suburb and were now making a stately lack of progress through Putney it was too late.
‘What are you coming this way for?’ I asked, consulting my watch and realising I had only half an hour until it was time to move my car. Yes, I’m still refusing to buy a £300 permit to park outside my house and moving the Volvo every morning to a nearby street in Streatham. What can I say? It works for me. I will do almost anything to experience the smug satisfaction of knowing I am doing Lambeth Council out of £300.
But the down side is, if I forget to move it before the control hours begin I’m pretty screwed. The men in motorbikes swoop at10 a.m. sharp. It was now 9.30 a.m., my car was outside my house and I was on the A205.
‘Is very good machine,’ said the driver. ‘Is latest TomTom.’ There wasn’t time to argue. Well, there was. There was half an hour to argue. The blasted satnav was forecasting arrival at 10.01 and the motorbikes were going to swoop a minute earlier.
So after we got through the Wandsworth one-way system I started directing the driver to take cut-throughs. We hit Balham with ten minutes to go and I started to get palpitations, imagining the men in black on motorbikes lying in wait. As we turned into the street before mine, we had one minute to go.
It was like an episode of NCIS where they defuse the bomb with only seconds left on the timer. I was sweating (well, obviously, no change there) and urging the driver on. We turned into my street with 30 seconds to go and …disaster. We came up sharp behind two minicabs, parked exactly side by side in the road, blocking it completely, while their drivers had a chat.
My driver beeped his horn but they wouldn’t move. He beeped again. One of them stuck a finger up through the window. My man shook his head and started to turn the car. ‘No!’ I said. ‘We haven’t got time to go round.’ I could get out and run but it was a long street. And I was in fiendish stilettos. To my astonishment, I found myself getting calmly out of the car and marching towards the minicabs. ‘Hey you!’ Strange voice. Don’t know whose it was. Both drivers looked round and shrugged as if to say, ‘What you gonna do about it?’
And then I pretty much changed into the Incredible Hulk. They froze. I didn’t even swear. Much. I just told them they needed to move with so much conviction — I’m fairly sure there were swirly flames in my eyes — that they did move. And as the obstacles in front of me just melted away, it did occur to me that in some ways this mid-life crisis isn’t altogether a completely bad thing.
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