Talking it Out
by Godfrey Boden
Five past eight - should do it in forty minutes - have to watch out, though: first day back at school since Easter. Real problem these youngsters - what was that policeman saying yesterday on TV, 'As you drive, talk to yourself about the hazards on the road - it's a splendid way of concentrating and so improving your driving'. Of course, he's quite right, we all need some discipline, only too easy to drift along. Remarkably intelligent fellow, good-looking too - I wonder how they pick 'em. I suppose he was a policeman, not just an actor.
Still, it's a good idea, I'll try it myself. I spotted nearly all the hazards in the film, if I had been actually driving I reckon I would have scored 100 per cent. Well, here goes - hazard number one, backing out of the garage - good thing it's a quiet cul-de-sac - I could avoid this one by reversing into the garage. Funny how I think of this in the morning but always drive straight in when I come home. Too tired to bother, I guess, after a day at the bank. Anyway, I'm out now, moving towards the main road - plenty of traffic here in both directions - not fair to count twenty-four hour hazards though. Bit of a gap now, signal right, move off, join the line moving steadily up the slope. Chap in front turning right, have to wait, can't pass him on the inside. Seems odd, so many folk turning off here - must be almost impossible to cross the London road at the bottom of the hill.
Coming to the London road myself now, better off here with the new traffic-lights. The lane-markings are wrong, though: it must be quite a month since I wrote to the Council about it. Pretty slack, these Local Government people - could take a lesson from the bank: we never keep anyone waiting for a reply.
Gosh! Anybody who blasts away on his horn like this fellow behind me is a major hazard himself. Oh! I see, the lights are green. What's that expression the French have? 'Il ne faut pas attendre jusqu'à ce que ...' Forget it, concentrate on your driving!
Coming up now to the right-hand turn by Longheath branch, always awkward here, look out for the Lollipop Lady - useful job for an active retired bank officer, social service and all that. All clear for 100 yards straight run to the blind corner by the 'Red Lion'. Seems crazy to pull down all that property way back and leave the pub still standing on the corner.
Edge slowly out, nothing coming, nice and easy now to the next crossing. Hello, starting to rain - wipers on - I heard the other day that they use more current than any other appliance on the car. Can't tell nowadays. My old Austin (1938 was it?) had an ammeter fitted - saves 10s. on the production cost, I expect.
Raining heavily now - four people sheltering on the step of Brookvalley branch. Well, it's nice to think the bank is giving a service. Well, it's nice to think the bank is giving a service. What about this for an advert: 'Don't stand in the porch, come inside, the manager is waiting for you'? No, that's no good. Warning: 'Road works - mud on the road'. Ah!, the Ashton bypass; I hope they get it finished before I retire. Nice to speed along an open road to work instead of this wretched crawl. Complicated junction here - Six Ways we used to call it. Six-acre roundabout is more appropriate now. If I can get a quick look to the left I might see if they have begun to demolish the old Ashton branch yet. Don't suppose so - if they did, everything else would fall down. Pity we had to close - progress they call it.
Don't be a fool, you're supposed to be watching for traffic coming down the main road on the right. O.K., concentrate, round the island, left and again. Nice place for the Midland Counties Bank. I remember that great old Victorian palace they used to have. Concentrate, concentrate, right turn down the hill, extraordinary number of school crossings here, can't be too careful, crowds of future depositors. Dead slow now, under the fly-over. Strange, isn't it - I estimate I'm driving over the very spot where I stood as a cashier in the old Oakley branch.
Very sharp bend here, could be nasty in winter; straighten up under the railway - always have to stop, quite dark really, good place to test brake lights; mine are working, I caught the red glow reflected in the headlamps of the car behind.
Hold it! Zebra crossing, folk just drifting across in ones and twos. Hello, there's young Karen Martin on her way to Summer Hill branch. Well, at least she's going to be early today.
Do we count mini-skirted girls as traffic hazards? They tell me that Karen's idea about filing definitely constitute a banking hazard!
Last turn now before running in to Head Office; always have to wait, still I'm first off when I get the chance. Summer Hill branch looks quite good for a temporary office, and that new sign stands out well. Paintwork still quite clean - perhaps we need not include it in this year's programme.
Moving again. What's this? Edward road re-opened, that's an unexpected bonus - I could save at least five minutes. Hang it, they've closed Oxford street now: talk about swings and roundabouts! Honestly, driving around the city is like a blessed obstacle race. Only a quarter of a mile now and I've made it. Really, Main street is one long hazard from end to end - buses, cars, pedestrians - the lot.
Safely parked now till 5 o'clock - sorry, 17.00 hours - must keep up to date. Wonder what the depositors think of our new hours of business plates.
Splendid idea, this running commentary - really does help one to concentrate.
This article was first published in the Savings Banks Institute Journal of July 1970.