The woman sat alone and stony-faced in the passenger seat of the car as it blocked the road. She was wearing a mask, but I could see that she wore the blankly determined expression of someone who thought they had every right to stop where they liked. Sure enough, the National Trust sticker was on the windscreen.
The driver’s door had been left open by her husband, and I had watched him get out and walk on to the village green to stand up against a tree and relieve himself.
The couple, both in their sixties, had pulled up and parked, for this purpose, in the middle of the road leading to my house. And the hatchet-faced woman in the passenger seat showed not a flicker of interest of any sort as I sat in my car waiting to take the turn she was blocking.
It was a sunny day, and the village green was crowded with children playing. The man was peeing in the middle of the green, in full view of them.
The car he had simply dumped across the entrance to the track that runs alongside the village green, so this couple were not only blocking me from getting home, they were blocking anyone else from turning in to the visitor car park.
After a few minutes, cars turning off the high street were piled up behind me bipping their horns. I sighed, because I didn’t want to get out of the car to try to communicate with the stony-faced woman, and end up having yet another argument with so-called nice middle-class people out for a day trip, because the result of that would be them screaming at me. I know that from bitter experience.
No matter how nice you are to people who have come to the countryside for a day out, they treat you like you are the one with the selfish attitude for not letting them ruin your day by doing stupid things that impede you from going about your daily business.
I had the Volvo full of wrapped 25kg haylage bales from the country store, and because I had bought these for the very reasonable price of four for £26, I was in a good mood. I didn’t want my day ruined by an encounter with two righteous pensioners, who had to be, let’s face it, pretty downright miserable because one of them was even now peeing on the village green in front of dozens of children.
So I sat there, thinking, ‘You know what, just for once in your life, don’t leap out and try to be a hero. Don’t do anything to resolve this situation. Just sit here and let it unfold. Perhaps someone else will do something.’
But the cars behind me piled up and the sunny peace of the village green had given way to horns sounding in disharmony. Oncoming cars were jammed up as well now, with day trippers queueing to get out from the various car parks.
So we were at an impasse, this miserable couple and I, and with people shouting abuse at me, assuming I was the problem, I had no choice. I got out of the car and very politely called to the woman, as she sat there in her mask: ‘Excuse me, are you going to be long? Because I’m trying to take the turning to my house and you’re blocking the road.’
Nothing. She just stared straight ahead, very deliberately refusing to acknowledge me. Look, I’m not asking for ‘Oh dear lovey, I am sorry. My husband got caught short. How embarrassing. We won’t be a minute.’ To which, of course, I would have said: ‘Aw, don’t worry. It happens.’ And I would have told the cars behind me they had to wait.
I wasn’t even asking for ‘I told him! Arthur, I said, you better go before we leave the house. But did he listen? Did he heck!’
To which I would also have replied with understanding noises. But I didn’t expect either of these traditional exchanges because you just don’t get them any more, not in Surrey. Nice, respectable-looking middle-class people in their sixties in smart saloon cars don’t speak to you politely, even and especially if they are in the wrong.
Eventually, her husband appeared, still fiddling with his trouser zip. He was a little man, wearing a recreational hat and sunglasses, as though trekking in the Hindu Kush.
He got into his car and sat there casually looking at a map, refusing to acknowledge me or the piled-up traffic.
So I tried to tell him he had to move. And he looked at me through the windscreen with a look of pure National Trust sticker bearing contempt, and he said: ‘You’re in the way! Go on, get lost!’
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