Friday, October 5, 2012
What is the purpose of bollards? Are they useful in any way whatsoever or is their existence merely to stress out petite drivers of Jeeps? My first brush with a bollard happened when I offered to go shopping so that my friend Sally, who was arriving to stay with us and is a brilliant cook, could whip up a fabulous supper. She was stuck on a yacht in Monaco harbour following the Historic Grand Prix, poor thing. As I loaded the car with shopping, my phone started beeping with impatient messages from Child No 1 asking how long she had to wait for her lift. I reversed out of my space in the underground car park at LeClerc in Grasse and promptly whacked the car into a low fat bollard that had failed to materialise in my side mirror. I mean, what is the point in a bollard that you can't even see, beside a car parking space that you are encouraged to use? Supper was delicious, but it might have been cheaper and less stressful if I had just taken us all out for dinner. The car went off to the garage for repairs and came back like new, all shiny and clean with no nasty dents. So you can imagine how gutted I was when I took Handyman's parents to the airport last week and it happened again. Again, I was doing someone a favour, this time to save Handyman from missing out on work, so I offered to drive. I parked in a lovely big space near the ramp so I could push the wheelchair to departures and did a quick appraisal of the space and saw no bollards. I had learned my lesson, however, and looked in every car mirror several times before engaging reverse, so why did I hear the sickening scrape of metal against a stupid, short, dumpy, upturned bucket of a bollard that was next to my space? Because it was invisible to anyone sitting in the driver's seat. As if by weird mental karma, my phone rang and it was Handyman asking how the drop off had gone. 'Well you won't believe this but....' 'You haven't pranged the bloody car again have you?' he spluttered in rage. 'Honestly, do you think someone is driving around putting bollards up each time you park?' Well yes, actually that's exactly what I am thinking. Livvy said: 'Mum, you need to stop doing nice things for other people.' As I type this, we are en route to Florence for my birthday weekend. The autostrada is two lanes, incredibly narrow, with high crash barriers, tight bends and the occasional bollard. And I am not driving.