Under Pressure

When I got back from the supermarket at the end of the day I noticed a tyre was down, so after dropping my son home I had to take the car to the nearest petrol station with an air pump (which not all of them seem to have in the UK; which surprises me, because it’s not like you can run an extension cord out into the street to power one of your own).

A 4WD was pulled up at it, and another car was parked behind that, so I joined the queue. After a while it became clear that the car in front of me was waiting for the car wash off to the left instead of the air pump, so that was good, I wouldn’t have long to go.

Then it became clear that the couple in the 4WD were doing everything it was possible to do while pulled up at the air pump: cleaning the windows, taking some rubbish to the bin, filling the windscreen-washer, sitting and checking their map. It was a left-hand-drive car, so they were obviously tourists catching their breath before hunting for their B&B. Been there, done that. But at this particular moment I was keen to get home, because I’d left half the groceries in the boot and one of the bags might have included melting icecream, plus it was my turn to make dinner. I felt the queue rage start to build. Couldn’t they just go? Come on, it won’t be that hard to find it. Go. Go, go, go.

At last they were both seated inside the car. But just as they were, the driver got back out... and pointed his SLR at a nearby church spire and started taking photos.

It must have been karmic revenge for all the quirky photos I’ve taken on my own travels. There I am, photographing some sixteenth-century window in some tiny lane, and all I’m doing is holding up someone who wants to get home to Celebrity Big Brother.

I did eventually get to the air pump, and paid my 50p for four minutes’ worth of air. Thank God that isn’t the usual going rate, or everyone on minimum wage would suffocate. There’s another thing, while I’m on the subject (and I’ve waited ten years for this, dammit): in Australia, air at petrol stations is free, assuming some bright spark at the Australian headquarters of BP or Caltex hasn’t recently decreed otherwise. Here, you pay. In Australia, the unspoken contract is that if you’ve gone to the petrol station to fill your tyres, you’ll fill the tank while you’re at it. Here, having paid my 50p, I feel no such obligation, and drove away this evening with the tank still half-empty.

There’s the fate of your Big Society in a privatized Britain, David Cameron.

(Note to self: Celebrity Big Society, hosted by Mary Portas—pitch to Channel 4, stat.)

29 January 2012 · Journal

Note to self: Google jokes before posting them.


Added by Rory on 29 January 2012.