I saw red over a red light and swore at a pensioner

PUBLISHED: 17:08 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 17:08 08 March 2019

What would you say to a car driver if you were told off for going through a red light which noboby else saw?

What would you say to a car driver if you were told off for going through a red light which noboby else saw?


Sometimes it feels good to say what you really think, says Nick Richards, even if it is verbally abusing an OAP

I’m a helpful, friendly and mild-mannered sort of chap. I do my bit for charity, I’ll pick up a lost child’s mitten and place it neatly on a wall. I’ll even rinse out a used pesto jar before putting it in the recycling bin.

I’m good like that.

But once I launched a foul-mouthed tirade of abuse at an old lady.

It was Easter Monday earlier in this decade and it was early in the morning. About 7am.

Before I moved back to Norwich I was living in Bury St Edmunds and had spent the Easter weekend moving houses in the town. After three days of driving back and forth to my new abode, I woke up early on that fateful day and went back to the old house to pick up my bike.

It was only a 10-minute journey between addresses and I recall I was carrying something in my left hand, either a bag or a coat. For this reason I was cycling with one hand on the handlebars and going pretty slowly.

For those of you that know Bury, I was cycling along Eastgate Street towards Angel Hill. As I approached the traffic lights close to the One Bull pub, I clocked that they were on red. There was nothing else on the road and nobody else about. I looked around and carried on through the red light at around 3mph. I don’t think I was causing anybody any problems.

Except I was.

As I rounded the corner onto Angel Hill I was aware of a car speeding behind me. I looked to my right as the car drew level with me and I made eye contact with the driver. A smartly-dressed lady in her 70s driving a Nissan Micra performed an interesting feat of managing to control her car while leaning across the passenger seat and, with the window wide open, she issued the following statement.

“Red lights are for cyclists, too”.

Well, excuse me.

We were both on the road but she alone had found it necessary to act as some kind of lone pensioner police force and warn me about my cycling etiquette. Fair enough. But taking into account my slow speed and the fact nobody else was around, I didn’t see why it had caused a problem.

I would have told her this if I had time, but I didn’t.

I was furious and enveloped with rage. I had a second to think of a reply and I made sure it was appropriate and to the point.

It was a five word response. Two of the words were ‘you’. The other three were swear words, two starting with ‘F’, the other was, horror of horrors, the worst swear word you could call anybody. Yep, that one.

My heart started beating and she drove off. I say ‘drive’ loosely. She floored the accelerator in what sounded like second gear and almost certainly exceeded the 20mph speed limit along the cobbles of a deserted Angel Hill.

I went to my new house, still pumping full of adrenaline and regaled the tale to my wife who rolled her eyes and said “Nick!” what seemed like far too many times.

I reflected on what had happened for the rest of the day and didn’t feel bad. She needed to be put in her place. OK, I know I should have probably stopped at that red light, but there was no need for her to take the moral high ground in such a situation.

Her words have stayed with me over the last few years though. Every time I see a cyclist ride through a red light or I am tempted to go through one when nobody is around I have the phrase “Red lights are for cyclists, too” in my head.

So she kind of made her point.

Her six word mantra is one of the reasons I don’t feel guilty as it did actually teach me a safety lesson. The funny thing is I hate seeing cyclists riding badly, and I hate overhearing swearing.

So if you’re reading this Mrs Nissan Micra driver, probably around 80 now and fond of, shall we say, interacting with cyclists early in the morning, I hope you are well and happy but I am not sorry for what I said to you, but I do respect you a heck of a lot.

The main reason for my lack of guilt and sorrow is because of the response you gave to my vitriolic volley of abuse.

You also had but a second to think of a retort and it seemed to me that you rolled back the years to unleash words you probably hadn’t uttered since the 1960s.

In a prim and proper voice your brain concocted a reply that your mouth didn’t quite seem ready to share and which belied your churchy demeanour.
You said: “F-F-F-F*** you too”.

I love you for that, for having the balls to bite back.

So all these years on I like to think that we both have closure on this incident.

Nobody was hurt, we both swore at each other and I am sure you got to your destination and told someone that you’d put a cyclist in their place.

So we’re quits.

I’d just like to add that speed limits are for motorists, too.

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