A morning commute in Bermuda, enjoy!
Former Bermuda resident JACK GAUNTLETT crafts an offbeat picture of the daily procession from the west into Hamilton at its most hectic
I kinda know something is up when there is this solid block of traffic piled up in front of me just up the hill from Darrell's Wharf. There must be a bottleneck caused by all those irritating drivers crossing over from Middle Road on their way to Hamilton. Must be the view or something. Can't be the road, which gets ridiculous farther down by Lower Ferry. Almost scraped my beautiful new Beamer against the wall down there the other morning. Thing cost me 80 grand. And baby, I paid cash.
Whipping off my $150 tie and loosening the button, I'm sitting there in super air-conditioning in the comfort of luxurious leather seating, but still a bit hot under the collar. Wondering how to pay for my children's education in the coming year as we approach the bottom of Stowe Hill, with loads of people trying to slide in front of me, I have to brake sharply. My 250km/h car makes a screeching noise, even though I'm only doing 25. Bursting past in front of me is this pert young woman on a scooter with a small child standing up front. The child's nose is right up against the back of the speedometer. It looks terrified while holding on for dear life.
As we move along towards Duncan Moran dentist offices, I see the young woman slam on her brakes because she can't quite squeeze through the cars in front. One of her side mirrors is hanging like a limp rag. She's looking around, seriously vexed. I'm wondering how the kid's face is doing as we pass Aberfeldy Nurseries. Just as I get to this driveway down from Trimingham Hill, there is this really sporty-looking woman, all decked out with immaculate hair. She wants to join the craziness. She gives me this brilliant smile and just roars right out in front of me — pedal-to-the-metal-like. I'm stunned. What should I do? I give way, of course; no point in mouthing her, as she's already out in front of me. I follow this lady to Crow Lane, where we all pass Johnny Barnes.
Here's a guy who's been there, forever. Doesn't seem to get much older and, in addition to brightening my day by telling me he loves me, wants to slap my hand as I go by. This guy even has a statue in his honour a little farther on. Maybe it's a pre-statue? Have to check that out with Desmond some time. Bermuda is indeed, another world. Anyway, good on ya Johnny Barnes.
There's a small measure of calm as the traffic sorts itself a bit on that spiffy double carriageway bit before East Broadway. I get the chance to show the muscle of my superior motor, as we all jockey for position on two immaculate lanes — actually 2½ lanes, since the one in the middle is unofficially reserved for all the crazies on scooters, mopeds and wannabe Harleys. We are now approaching something that has to be unique.
There is this policewoman standing in the middle of the road, literally risking her life in front of this onslaught of rolling traffic, bent on arriving in the big city on time! I kid you not. This is just near the bottom of Spurling Hill. She's standing there waving to me that it's OK to cross over now and head up the hill. As I pass, she affords me a beautiful smile and a “good morning”. Here's a woman who deserves a medal, substantial raise or maybe both. And here's a woman, with cojones!
Moving along, now on Reid Street East, I'm wondering if I'm not back'a'town in Kingston, Jamaica, which my wife and I visited last year (lying through my teeth). How come nobody is interested in fixing up these buildings? Let's face it, it looks a bit out of character. The rest of the place looks like Gotham City, especially since Sir John Swan built that spiffy Lindberg creation down by East Broadway.
All of a sudden, I burst through the junction of Court and Reid streets and, presto, I'm back in Bermuda again. “Magic” I'm thinking, while at the same time planning strategy for the turn ahead on to Queen Street and the big one. Getting to the top of Queen, I have to make a big decision. Right or left? Right takes me the long way round to Bull's Head Parking Lot, behind Victoria Park or worse, and all that craziness. Left drops me slam-bam in middle of the nightmare of those who chose Front Street instead of Spurling Hill, and who have rushed up Bermudiana Road thinking they would beat me to the junction on to Par-la-Ville extension! Everybody and their uncle wants to get on to Par-la-Ville extension heading for Bull's Head, which is most likely filling up fast. That is the proverbial home stretch for us West End commuters, baby!
Arriving, finally, at the parking lot with my nerves all jangled, my hair all messed up and panting slightly in exasperation, I manage to rip the brimmer, still shiny and unrented, into one of the few remaining spaces. In the process, I have successfully blocked the attempts of some old codger trying to steal my space with a rusty-looking clunker. “Both have obviously seen better days,” I'm thinking, as I reach for my discarded tie, which is on the seat next to me.
As I button up and execute a brilliant Windsor on my pure silk purchase, I'm reminded of why it cost me $150 at Cooper's. There's this big grinning Santa face all over the front of it!
Merry Christmas people! Have wonderful holiday season.
PS: Before ya'll get ideas, I drove a brimmer here in Sweden a bit — company car. Made my tax picture pretty ugly.