Summer Madness by Barbara Nadel

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As I’ve said before, for reasons too naff to go into, I’m in a bad place right now. This doesn’t do much for anyone and so my fuse, which is short at the best of times, is now even shorter.

In the normal course of events I can manage to rein my temper in. But I do have one very big, rather serious flash point. That consists of drivers on the road who think that they can push me around, make me drive as dangerously as they do and generally just splash testosterone about all over the place (even the women). I can’t take it, I won’t have it and in the last two months I’ve had stand up rows with men big enough to crush my head with their fingers because of it.

The worst incident was when I was being followed by a white van man who wanted me to run a red light. I didn’t want to get penalty points on my license and so I stopped. I didn’t make him have to pull up sharply as we were both going slowly at the time. But then suddenly I see in my mirror that he’s yelling at me. I am apparently every fucking c**t in the world and I deserve to die for what I’ve done to him. I rolled down my window and I just let loose. That red mist came down and as soon as he said he was going to ‘come over there and fucking kill you’ I was straight back with ‘well just get on and do it then you bollock!’

Luckily at that point the lights changed and I set off. He pursued me, still yelling and threatening which just made me slow down to almost a standstill just to piss him off. Eventually I stopped and yet more insults were traded until more traffic built up behind him and he drove off. But if he’d got out of his van I would have got out of my car and I would have hit him. I’m not proud of this and I don’t think it’s right. But the buzz I got out of actually having someone to take out my fury on was intoxicating. He was a stupid, testosterone fuelled, sexist man who was getting off on ranting at a woman who refused to do what he wanted her to. But he wasn’t and isn’t the cause of my current precariousness and anxiety.

Later, thinking about that incident, I did have a tiny moment when I was a little scared. Not because I was afraid of seeing him or his van again but because when he was threatening me I just didn’t care. Taking him on was the main thing and my own personal safety came decidedly second to that. When your life goes wrong or out of control for any reason you are prey to feelings of having ‘nothing left to lose’. That was how I felt then and how I do feel quite often now that I just work and go to bed and try not to think about tomorrow in this land of cuts, redundancy and recession.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I live in a soft western country and I will probably not starve to death on the street. But like a lot of people at the moment I am worried for the future and even wonder at times if I can actually see a future at all. So when the red mist descends and summer madness takes a hold my urge is not to care especially about myself. But take heed any nascent road ragers out there, it’s not big, or bold or clever and it does tell the world that you’re in a bad place. Just like your mum and dad said all those many years ago when you were a kid ‘don’t do as I do, do as I say.’

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