‘We are the first town to ignore all driving rules’

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I WAS once stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no idea how to get home, with a colleague who had the distinct advantage of local knowledge.

“No problem,” he told me, “Just tuck in behind me and I will lead the way home.”

Off we drove in our two cars and soon we were somewhere near Lacey Green. Suddenly he stuck his right arm out of the window, span it like a windmill and, in the same movement did a ninety degree turn to the left up a side road.

I was on two wheels doing fifty as I tried to turn with him, and my life had only just stopped flashing before me when we pulled up outside a small row of shops.

“What was all that about?” I bellowed at him, “What?” he replied, looking hurt. “That signal means I am going to the butchers and everyone knows the butchers is up this road.”

Brilliant. Someone must have ripped out the page from my Highway Code with the relevant hand signal for “I am going to the butchers”

I have never forgotten that signal, and the other day I came to realise that the same sort of local driving rules apply if you are to go from one end of Thame to the next.

Firstly, the roundabout near the Rising Sun IS a roundabout, but bear with anyone coming up Bell Lane.

They will hurtle out at speed and you can’t see them until they ram you side on. To compensate for that we all tend to stop completely before entering the other roundabout five yards further on.

If there are three cars approaching this roundabout the rule is to all sit and wave the other on so that no-one actually dare make the first move.

And if you safely negotiate that one then the roundabout by the Cross Keys is optional.

People drive to the left OR the right of the roundabout depending on their mood. The same thing happens at the roundabout down by the Star and Garter. The roundabout is bit far over and we can’t really be bothered to do it properly if turning right. Don’t even get me started on Chinnor Road and Nelson Street; you need a degree in special awareness to know if your car will fit through at times.

We could well be the first town ever to declare independence from the national Highway Code. We have road crossings that AREN’T road crossings (I won’t tell you again), roundabouts that we drive round the wrong way, and as of now I would like anyone popping in to Newitts to remember to use the appropriate hand signal. Together we can make Thame a safer place.