Unfortunately, my first and last names are “Runsawayfrom” and “Likealittlekitten”. But I can get that changed by deed poll now. I have proved my manhood.
So what fine, brave, reckless thing did I do? Perhaps you should sit down, or else these words might make you stumble. Gentle reader, I drove in Galway City.
I’d been putting that one off. Encircled by roundabouts, fiercely peppered with student bicycles, crammed up a one-way system rumoured to be based on the French horn, Galway is famously difficult for the inexperienced. And I am certainly that. Though I have in fact driven in Galway traffic before, it was twenty-five years ago when there were hardly any one-way streets and no roundabouts at all. The good old days, before the planners ruined it. By planning for all the cars people went and bought.
My only real experience with the traffic circle therefore was in our ecclesiastical capital Tuam, where they’re mostly of the mini variety. You know, those marked-on-the-ground ones that you can drive straight through if you’re not in the mood. Did I mention I failed my test? Anyway the ones in Galway City are big, with two or – for one particularly confusing segment – three lanes. To someone ignorant of the simple principles involved, they seem impossibly dangerous. Six months ago, I was that someone.
It was OK, he said nonchalantly. Not easy, but not the ballet of knives it appears to be either. Mirrors are your friends. No wait, they’re not your friends. They’re your enemies. Watch them. Basically the town driving is about the constant swivel-headed vigilance. All you need to do is look in as many directions as possible simultaneously.
I did get tooted, but just once – not bad for a first time. I deserved it too, I cut someone up. And yet somehow I don’t feel too bad about this. Possibly because it was a white van.