Dave, who is in a souped-up Mitsubishi with go-faster stripes, and Tony, who is in a Vauxhall with a specially designed noisy exhaust, have been waiting, facing each other, at both ends of a narrow single lane street in Working for a three days and nights now. They have both been frantically flicking their headlights at each other to indicate that they are graciously allowing the other car to pass first. Neither will budge, and police have had to implement a diversion around the street until the impasse is resolved.
‘I’m not budging,’ says Tony, who has been using a coke can to piss in the last few days. ‘It’s a pride thing. I’m the most courteous driver on the road in the whole of Working, and no man can outperform me in terms of road courtesy. When I stop, give a flick of my headlights and a self-righteous nod as you pass, you should be grateful, drive on sharpish with a submissive thankful smile. The prick in the Mitsubishi will crack and give in to my courtesy before I give in to his’.
I ask the other driver Dave if Tony’s courtesy will indeed be stronger than his. ‘No way. Look, I’m dying for shit, but I’m not going to give up. It’s the British bulldog spirit. That’s how we beat the Argies and the Germans. The British weren’t going to retreat from their trenches just because they were touching cloth, and neither am I. Courtesy? You got it all wrong, mate, giving way to other drivers like this ain’t about courtesy to them. Stopping and flicking your lights at someone to put them under pressure to drive on, especially at junctions, can be very dangerous. Have you ever noticed that it is only blokes that stop to allow others to go first at junctions and not women? It’s about who has the biggest gear stick, if you know what I mean? When I stop and make others go at my command with a casual flick of my headlights, I’m demonstrating that I’m top dog, throwing a bone to you, my road bitches, which you should take and be thankful for’.
As Dave’s proud wife Chantelle hands some adult nappies through the car window and another packet of rizlas, it looks like this Woking Mexican standoff has a long way to go yet. But it is still a long way off a world record. Alpha males in the Ural mountains kept a road courtesy standoff going for two generations on a stretch of single-track forest road to maintain the honor of their families. It only ended when both families could save face and drive on, without either having to accept an offer to go first when the road was widened.