White Lines and Power
I trust anyone who thinks this story might be about politics and the use of stimulant drugs will forgive me. It’s much more mundane. I used to live in Sevenoaks in Kent – a small sleepy kind of English town on the outskirts of London and home to rich commuters.
At the time I helped look after the child of a friend, taking him to school and collecting him each day. I used to laugh at the rows of 4×4’s in the carpark ready to collect the kids. These tough off-roaders were driven by mothers who felt secure on the road only behind all that metal.
I had a joke at the time that the white line down the middle of the road was called the “Jeep Line” in Sevenoaks. It seemed the mothers on their way to school thought they were supposed to follow that line, I guessed, from the way they drove their cars down the middle of the road.
They were often unaware of the size of the vehicle and frankly in many cases needed more lessons specially to drive them. It used to annoy me, this excess of metal being used to colect one seven year old and drive them a mile home.
Last month, enriched by a substantial payout of disability benefits I had been wrongly denied for over a year, I bought a Land Rover. I don’t feel so disabled now because I have actually been able to get out and visit people, go to a birthday party and travel to the treatments that may help me recover use of my body.
Suddenly I discover that I have a softer attitude to the women of kent. I can understand the small sense of power that comes from being invincible on the road. I can understand how this small sense of power is like a balm to the powerlessness they experience throughout their lives. Becoming good mothers and wives as society expects, the good women of kent have rarely and exceptionally stopped still long enough to sense their own inherent power.
I still think it wrong of them to use such innefficient vehicles. But the innefficiency comes from the fact that they are trying to excercise power over their lives within a framework provided for them by upbringing and which itself took away their power.