surinenglish

Cars and effect

Anyone who happens to be wandering around a major town or city over the festive period surely can't help but be taken aback by the maelstrom of manic activity taking place at an extraordinarily breakneck speed. Cars hurtle and honk their way through the overcrowded streets, their owners presumably desperate to buy that last slab of Battenburg that no one will ever get round to eating anyway, before the cake shop closes.

It's at times like these that you realise just what a miracle road usage is. According to official statistics, there are over thirty million vehicles in circulation in Spain, most of which seem to be in the centre of Malaga at Christmas time. Thirty million! And there they all go, whizzing daily - and nightly - to their myriad destinations, for the most part perfectly intact.

Even one accident is too many of course, but I'm always amazed that there aren't thousands more little bumps and bangs considering the close proximity involved in most traffic circulation - it's frequently a matter of inches. If we factor in mechanical failures, squabbling children, bossy mothers-in-law, the double disgrace of mobile phone use and drink driving, health problems, poor eyesight, arrogant cyclists, fighting with your girlfriend, etc. it's truly astonishing that our roads aren't more akin to the old fairground dodgems that nobody ever really enjoyed when they were young except for the ubiquitous psychotic youth who always conducted proceedings sporting a devilish manic grin.

In spite of our constant carping about other road users, then, the vast majority of people drive remarkably well, often in stressful circumstances.

It's quite a thing to be directing three or four tonnes of metal around a complex system of roads, lanes and highways, avoiding hundreds of others performing exactly the same task but very rarely sharing the same route. Imagine being a delivery driver under strict time constraints. Then imagine being a delivery driver under strict time constraints in a massive truck. On your first day. In a city you've never visited. With a broken leg. Only kidding about the last one but the more I think about it the more I think we should doff our caps respectfully to all those who - in spite of the extremely difficult circumstances - manage to drive safely day in and day out.

Now then, I'm off for that bit of that cake I never got round to eating at Christmas.