The F Word

Peter looks at Roads during the holidays

Photo by Srattha Nualsate

TO NAVIGATE THE numerous driving hazards in Gauteng, you need a good voice, eyes at the back of your head and an ability to honk the horn. The voice is to vent your anger at ploughing into potholes that suddenly materialise in front of your car, of thoughtless taxi drivers and inconsiderate idiots who cut in front of you. It’s no fun driving anymore and it is no wonder Uber has taken off and become such an integral part of the driving community. I found a new driving code to help drivers survive on highways and byways of this lovely, corrupted land of ours. Over many years of driving, and a few accidents thrown in for good measure, I have noticed the dramatic change of attitude among the motoring fraternity. Nobody needs to signal anymore. I suspect they think this may give away their next move and that’s heck of a bad thing. Never give away anything! Never leave a safe following distance between vehicles, because this will simply allow other cars to occupy that valuable space.

Obstacles on the road, such as old tyres, lead pipes and bits of wood, are signals for those deft drivers to weave in and out of the traffic at ridiculous speeds. One must not forget, either, the lack of paint on our roads, which only adds to the hazards. Motorists who have reached their top speed must totally ignore the speed limit because it only serves as a rough guide. Why do you think it’s called “rush hour.” Those who enjoy an added dose of excitement in their humdrum lives can slow down at accident scenes, even if it’s only to see an irate motorist changing a tyre. This will certainly incur the wrath of fellow drivers, a move that inevitably leads to a healthy infusion of road rage. The emergency lane is for the sole use of taxi drivers, especially at peak hour. So don’t try your luck moving into this lane because you may find yourself in real trouble – from another taxi. And remember they are armed!

While driving at high speeds, one need not concentrate on the road. I have witnessed countless drivers on cell phones and a dozen or imbeciles actually texting while driving. What I find worthwhile, though, is focusing on the deluge of personal number plates that come at you from every conceivable angle. Are there hidden messages out there on our roads that I am failing to read? Do they reveal more than they should? An attractive-looking woman in a Jag ahead of me at the traffic lights had “Meow” on her plates. A cat lover or someone who can show her claws when needed?

I was overtaken on the highway by a luxury car that was certainly doing an impressive job in the art of low flying. His number plate? “Zoom.” Other tags that caught the eye included “Ring 2,” “U4Me,” “007,” “Bitch,” “Lover,” “Blonde” and “Score.” A friend named Penny received as a birthday gift from her husband a personalised number plate with her name on it. She loved it. It was only after the 11th motorist called out her name, and one even tried to invite her out to dinner, did it dawn on her that her name was out there for all to see. She changed it forthwith …

 

About the author

Peter Feldman

Peter has been a journalist and arts critic for almost 50 years and served on The Star in various capacities for 35 years, ending up as a specialist writer on films, music and theatre. During that time he travelled extensively on assignments and interviewed many international film and pop stars, both in South Africa and overseas. He also covered some of South Africa's biggest film and musical events. He was one of only two South African journalists to be invited by Steven Spielberg to the Hook film junket in LA in 1991 where he interviewed the famous director as well as Dustin Hoffman and the late Robin Williams. He attended the gala James Bond premiere in London in 1981 and did an iconic interview in a Rolls Royce with Roger Moore who played Bond. He spent a week touring England with Queen prior to their Sun City visit in 1983, interviewed a host of international stars on films sets in Hollywood and London and was the first local journalist to nail an interview with The Rolling Stones prior to their SA visit in 1995.
He is active in the freelance field and his work has appeared in a variety of South African newspapers and magazines. He has also worked on TV and radio (ChaiFM 101.9) in his specialist capacity. Over the years Feldman has been the recipient of several awards for his contribution to music journalism and the SA record industry. He is a recent recipient of the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz award in recognition for his long standing journalistic support for the arts. He wrote lyrics for some top artists, including Sipho Mabuse, and had a hit disco single, "Video Games," which was released in 1988. He coined the phrase "Local is Lekker" which he used in his columns in The Star Tonight and broadcast in the 70s on David Gresham's popular afternoon show on Springbok Radio.

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