Grunt – 11 December 2014


This weekend, I’m writing this piece in East London. We drove down, our journey interrupted on several occasions by roadworks and their accompanying stop-goes. Some were right in the middle of the veld. You’re bumbling along quite nicely, within the speed limit, of course, (Yeah, right! No, really! Well, more or less.), then suddenly, you come over a rise, and there’s some poor soul waving an orange flag – alas, no cheetah! – a couple of hundred yards before the yellow barrier plonked right across your lane.
Now, I’ve noticed that there’s a developing sub-culture among men prescribing what constitutes acceptable male behaviour at stop-goes. You throw open the driver’s door, clamber out, and head for the edge of the road. You might gather a couple of pals together to form a single line, but that’s optional. Once on the verge with your feet firmly planted about half a metre apart, you unzip your pants and pee. Then, zipped up again, you head for the boot, haul out a beer, and gulp it back as quickly as feasible because (a) there might be time for another, or (b) the Stop might have changed to Go, and you’ve got to get the car started, your seat-belt on, etc. After all, you don’t want to lose your place in the queue. But, if there’s still more waiting time, then you light up a smoke and lean against the car door with a very macho look of total irritation, or you wander right across the road to see if you can see or hear the traffic coming from the other direction. This is stupid, and yet pretty similar to putting your ear on the railway track to listen for an oncoming train. You’ll know if it’s very close; it will be very loud and it will hit you.
So, I’m becoming quite a fan of stop-goes, although I don’t smoke or drink. They give us chance to research this fascinating sub-culture before it disappears. Who knows, one day, you might even be able to earn the first Pee-hD in this field. Imagine that!