It is 7.35pm and rain is falling heavily. The road has transformed to a shallow ocean, tiny waves pushed from the tyres of the slowly moving traffic, gathering in rivers at the side of the road, flowing downhill, across tarmac and mud and into a ditch filled with misplaced cones, empty beer cans and a single shoe.
Exactly four miles further up the road there has been an accident, not a fatal accident, noone was injured, in fact at the accident exactly four miles up the road a man with a bald head, three tattoos, a BMW drivers club t-shirt, army fatigue shorts and rainwater dripping down his face has just shouted at a Priest calling them a “prick”.
Of course it could be very easy to read into this situation and come up with the wrong conclusion. It’s very easy to pass unnecessarily quick judgement on people you don’t know based purely on physical attributes. Without full knowledge of the exact circumstances and details of the incident you could easily draw the following incorrect assumptions.
Firstly you might assume that the man’s baldness and fondness for tattoos meant he was probably a neo-Nazi type fascist, someone whose hobbies include misogyny, casual racism and snooker. You might add that the army fatigue shorts were perhaps a reflection of his violent tendencies – maybe he’d been in prison for robbing a bank while slapping a woman. Indeed with those two assumptions in place alongside the fact that he’d shouted obscenities in the rain at a priest, the BMW drivers club t-shirt would merely be confirmation of initial suspicions that this man, this monster more likely, was one hundred percent “a bit of a cunt”.
Assumptions can, of course be misleading.
What was failed to be mentioned was that this probable meathead was currently sat on the floor with a cut and bloodied lip after being assaulted by Sandra, a Glasweigan priest in her mid fifties for asking for her insurance details after she’d swerved into the side of his mother’s new car spreading debris into the road but, thankfulfully, with no injuries.
What was also failed to be mentioned, but perhaps might have been guessed was that this story is not about Sandra. It is not about Sandra currently being handcuffed by a traffic officer, nor Graeme giving his statement, bloodied and regretting two of his three tattoos. The story is not even about Evelyn, Graeme’s mother, who had given Graeme the BMW t-shirt and army fatigue shorts the previous day for his birthday and had insisted that he wore them for their special day out.
It is not about any of them.
Instead it is about a man in a dark grey suit sat in standstill traffic, four miles from the scene of the accident, watching huge drops of rain hitting the windscreen as ineffective wipers move left to right. It’s about a man oblivious to Radio Four mumbling in the background, humid air steaming up the windows and the hunger building from three hours on the road. It’s about a man hoping, praying that he will be in time.
It’s about a man one hour away from home.