Road rage, personal space and a poetic response

I travel 37 miles to work in Bristol from Cardiff each morning, and 37 miles back each evening. It’s mostly an uneventful and – occasionally – quite a pleasant journey, involving views at various points in the year of sunrises over the River Severn, and sunsets along the estuary.

Every now and then, though, another road user decides that my relaxed and casual driving demeanour needs to be shaken up by an act of negligence or deliberate stupidity that puts me and my car in danger. My trip home this evening was one of those occasions. A loser in a small, souped-up hatchback decided that he was going to drive into the precise space on the road that I was occupying whether I was there or not (and I am not joking – this muppet was coming out regardless).

Road rage is the motorist’s response to the invasion of personal space that leaves all of us feeling uncomfortable when it happens. W H Auden’s poem “I have no gun but I can spit” is the literary equivalent of one or two of the gestures that I was making towards the hatchback driver this evening (although done much more elegantly!).

Some thirty inches from my nose

The frontier of my Person goes,

And all the untilled air between

Is private pagus or demesne.

Stranger, unless with bedroom eyes

I beckon you to fraternize,

Beware of rudely crossing it:

I have no gun, but I can spit.

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