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A trip to the Midlands

For reasons of mutual interest which need not concern my readers, yesterday I collected my brother in Putney in south-west London at 9.00am and drove to Rugby School in Warwickshire in order to watch a school rugby match between Rugby and Sedbergh.

Within less than a minute of setting off from my brother’s house, having turned a single corner, we were involved in the type of ludicrous street discourtesy that epitomises what is wrong with British society in the 21st Century.

The thirty-something dark-haired female driver of an Ocado grocery delivery van had decided to park it at such an angle from the pavement in Durnsford Road that it represented an impassable obstacle to any other vehicle on the Queen’s highway.

Stopping behind it, I parped my car’s horn to draw attention to our presence. Nothing happened for about two minutes, after which the lady opened the cabin door of her van with a surly air, rolled her eyes in frustration and disappeared from sight. Another minute passed and then, deliberately ignoring the traffic issue she was creating, she simply carried on with the entirety of her delivery – which lasted between another five and seven minutes – evidently ‘enjoying’ both the fact she was holding us up and indeed her own defiance – before having to make several manoeuvres in order to extricate her van and drive off in front of us.

The general attitude of people, particularly the lack of consideration for others, is one of the things that increasingly drives me nuts.

This Ocado delivery-woman may think that she’s ‘cool’ and/or achieved a degree of minor triumph over her fellow man yesterday morning, but we’ll see whether she revises her opinion after both the chairman of Ocado and the head of his PR department receive my formal letter of complaint about her conduct on Wednesday (or possibly Thursday, knowing the hopeless service provided by the Post Office these days).

However – to return to the subject of my trip to the Midlands yesterday.

Through an Old Sedberghian pal of his, my brother had discovered that Rugby and Sedbergh had decided to stage a friendly rugby match to commemorate the old boys of both schools who had died in World War One and I was happy to endorse his suggestion that we should attend out of interest.

In all I should estimate that a crowd of about 400 lined the touchline for the game which kicked off at 12.30pm. It was an inherently rewarding experience to walk the grounds of one of the great educational establishments of the land and be exposed to the positive atmosphere generated by everyone involved, not least those to whom we chatted. At one point before the game began, we spotted a fascinating photograph on the wall of a pavilion featuring a Rugby School team in the 1900s standing behind the posts on the Bigside pitch after a try had been scored with the conversion attempt awaited. Recognising our proximity to the scene, we then went over and took smartphone photographs from a position that hopefully recreated the Edwardian image (albeit without the players).

One of the most notable things about the United Kingdom is the climate difference between its various geographical parts.

In winter-time, stepping out of the warmth of a car anywhere north of Watford immediately exposes a diehard southerner like me to blustery winds and a temperature drop of at least 10 degrees Centigrade.

Yesterday the former were particularly strong and bitingly cold. At half-time, despite being well wrapped up – in almost a cartoon-like scene – my brother and I looked at each other, one of us enquiringly nodding in the direction of the side-street in which our car was parked, the other nodding in assent … and we withdrew from the event, jumped on board and sped south again, happily arriving home at least an hour earlier than otherwise would have been the case. On the journey back we had agreed that, if either of us wanted to know the final result, we could always look it up on the Rugby School website this morning.



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About Martin Roberts

A former motoring journalist, Martin lists amongst his greatest achievements giving up smoking. Three times. He holds to the view that growing old is not for the faint-hearted. More Posts