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Birvidik

Vessel Name: Birvidik
Vessel Make/Model: Victory 40
Hailing Port: Jersey C.I.
Crew: Bob Newbury
About: Liz Newbury
Extra: 11 years into a 10 year plan, but we get there in the end.
24 December 2023
22 November 2023 | Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
14 August 2023 | A farce in three acts.
14 August 2023 | Sliding Doors
14 August 2023 | The Game Commences
11 March 2023 | Joseph Heller, eat your heart out.
24 December 2022
26 August 2022 | or 'French Leave'
03 August 2022 | or 'Fings ain't the way they seem'
18 June 2022 | or Desolation Row
22 March 2022 | or "Every Form of Refuge Has its Price
28 October 2021 | and repeat after me - "Help Yourself"
23 September 2021 | Warning - Contains strong language and explicit drug references
23 September 2021 | or Everything's Going to Pot
04 September 2021 | or Out of my league
27 August 2021 | or 'The Whine of the Ancient Mariner
16 August 2021 | Found in marina toilet, torn into squares and nailed to door.
06 August 2021 | or 'The Myth of Fingerprints'
Recent Blog Posts
24 December 2023

The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Those were the days, my friend...

22 November 2023 | Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right

As a fully paid-up Guardianista, I am fully aware that blanket, stereotypic statements along the lines of:

14 August 2023 | A farce in three acts.

Planes, Trains & Automobiles - Preface

OK, I admit it.

Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right

22 November 2023 | Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.
Bob&Liz Newbury
As a fully paid-up Guardianista, I am fully aware that blanket, stereotypic statements along the lines of:
"Portugues drivers are a bunch of needle-dicked maniacs with the road sense, consideration, and analytical skills of a horde of deranged lemmings."
are lazy, bigoted, xenophobic generalisations that have no place in civilised discourse. So I shall recast the comment:
"The great majority of those individuals who drive Portuguese-registered cars on Portuguese roads do so in a manner which could reasonably be construed as supporting the proposition that they comport themselves in a pattern consistent with their being a bunch of needle-dicked maniacs with the road sense, consideration, and analytical skills of a horde of deranged lemmings".

Chief amongst their litany of challenges to the doctrine of Darwinian selection is the practice of tailgating. If you drive along a Portuguese road at anything less than the square of the speed limit, you've got 34 seconds, max, before you've got a beaten-up station wagon full of live chickens trying its damnedest to climb in your boot. This happens with such frequency that you end up shrugging it off as just one of the things you have to put up with, if you will persist in the insane practice of driving on Portuguese roads.

Until, that is, the full, potential lethality of the practice is brought home to you.

We were doing about 90 km/h down a deserted two-way road. Well, deserted apart from us and the bloody great black SUV slewing from side to side, less than a bonnet's length from our rear bumper. About ½ a K ahead, hazard lights caught my attention. There was a breakdown recovery truck on the hard shoulder, with a Merc lashed on the platform.

As we got closer, I could see that the truck's left-hand wheels were just over the line marking the inner limit of our lane, so I moved across a metre or so to the left, so as to give him a bit of clearance, simultaneously easing the speed to around 80. The SUV copied, except for the slowing down bit. You could now just about slide a Rizla between his radiator grille and our rear foglight.

So far, so nothing out of the ordinary.

It was when we were almost alongside the truck that things really started to go pear-shaped. His hazards went out and, without so much as a 'by your leave', he started to pull out into our lane. I was spoilt for choice: get sideswiped, move into the oncoming lane and overtake him, or slam on the brakes and hope that Shit-for-brains behind me had the reflexes of Bruce Lee.

What's that you say - Blast the truck with the horn? Yeah, I thought of that. Did I mention that we hadn't had this car long? This was only the fifth or so time I'd driven it. I knew where most of the controls were - a bit hazy on lights, rear wipers and aircon, but generally, I'd got the hang of most of it. The central locking was a law unto itself, but the horn? No idea.

You can tell I'm not Portuguese - I've never used the thing, not in anger, not even out of idle curiosity. When a Portuguese buys a car, the first thing he checks is the horn - how do you work it and how loud is it. Well. It stands to reason; he uses it more than any other control.

Indeed, in Portuguese folklore, the car horn has magical powers. When a Portuguese driver is confronted with a delay of more than five nanoseconds, his immediate first response is to blast his horn. At its siren call, irreparably broken-down, smoking wrecks miraculously restore themselves to perfect working order and the tailback just melts away. Stubborn traffic lights fluster and turn, apologetically, to green. The horn's basso profundo chivvies roadworkers into pulling their fingers out and getting those bloody traffic cones in the back of the van where they should be. At the first beep, traffic police sheepishly shut down their roadside checkpoints and get on with their proper job, which is fining tourists for not carrying all the right documents with them.

This magic is dose-dependent; the more horns you've got going, the more powerful the spell.

Two beeps good; four beeps better. Forty beeps, a force to be reckoned with.

However, I digress.

So, having wasted precious milliseconds determining that the horn was not an option, I returned to the three that were. Getting sideswiped didn't appeal, and slamming on the anchors would, most likely, result in Twatfeatures behind us ending up in our back seat.

I turned my attention forwards. Chummy in the tow truck continued on his intercept course. I could see the road for about a kilometre ahead and it was empty, so I plumped for option two, signalled left, pulled out into the oncoming lane, and put my foot down.

As did the dickhead in the Datsun behind.

The only difference being that when he put his foot down, something happened.

Up until then, I hadn't fully appreciated just how underpowered a Seat Ibiza is. Flooring the pedal made not a jot of difference. The engine tone continued to hum nonchalantly along, unaffected. The tachometer and speedo remained stubbornly unmoved. I dropped it down into fourth. The only discernible difference was the pitch of the engine. The car remained resolutely at the same speed. At which point, the inevitable happened and a car coming the other way hove into view, about a kilometre down the road. We must have had a closing speed of around 200 km/h. That gave us about 18 seconds before all three vehicles underwent a major restyling.

I looked around and gained little comfort. Tail-end Charlie was still intent on humping the Seat, and judging by the clouds of oily black smoke, Mad Max in the tow-truck must have had his foot flat to the floor.

I went for the option that looked to be the least unsurvivable. I flashed my hazards twice and slammed on the brakes, hoping that the Datsun driver noticed and at least took his foot off the throttle. Luckily, he had, and the two of us slotted neatly in behind the tow-truck. Five seconds later, an open-top Merc flashed by the other way at speed.

I looked in the mirror. The Datsun was still behind us, but for some unfathomable reason he was now leaving a safe margin between us. The road ahead was clear. I waved him on, and he nipped smartly past with a friendly wave of acknowledgement.

Thirty seconds later, we had a petrol tanker up our arse.
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Photo Albums
08 August 2013
10 Photos
18 August 2012
14 Photos
SailBlogs Friends
inclusionWinds v2.0
AURA