Taking Stock - October 6, 2012

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On the roads I’ve always laboured under the assumption the rush hour was as bad as it gets.

That was because until recently I’ve never been involved in the school run.

You’d think, given the precious nature of the cargo on board this would be an orderly affair, not least because the majority of participants are mums – the brains and reason of most parental unit.

You would, of course be completely wrong.

It’s war and for the rookie a terrifying experience.

Nothing prepares you for the merciless nature of your fellow participants as everyone competes for the holy grail of a parking space.

And, it’s clear, the law of the jungle is the bigger the car, the meaner and more determined the mum behind the wheel. If you think Michael Schumacher was a dab hand at finding the smallest gap to overtake, you should see some of the manoeuvres going on every day around the primary schools of Britain.

In a way, I’m lucky The Munchkin’s school has a car park.

That means I don’t have to spend every day, between 8.30am and quarter to nine, driving around the streets scanning for any sign of someone about to give up their prized spot.

The car park is, indeed, a blessing – right up to the point you need to get out of it.

The only option is to join the queue of 30-odd other parents, all wanting to turn the same way into rush hour queues. I’ve started taking a book.

There are some parents (mostly dads from what I can see) who, given the palaver of the school gate, don’t bother getting out of their cars at all.

They simply choose the closest possible spot to school before depositing their young – like fledglings flying the nest they need to reach the school gates alone. Stopping seems optional but at least these folk are helping create our stunt men and women of the future.

Some parents, thanks to a great deal of foresight, or simply the luck of the draw, have the luxury of opting out of the chaos – living close enough to school to walk every day.

How smug they look, strolling past as you sit in a line of traffic, right up to the moment another mixture of gales and soaking rain sweeps in off the Irish Sea, sending brollies flying and drenching anybody unfortunate enough not to be sat inside their cars.

It’s all a bit new to me given that as a youngster growing up in Over Wyre, we didn’t do the school run at all.

Every morning, from reception class to the bitter end, we’d catch a bus which would deposit us at the school gates.

There were some parents who insisted on driving but the vast majority of us would go in by bus in the morning and go home by bus at night.

It was where friendships were formed and all kinds of mischief was played out.

For our cousins across the pond this is, of course, standard practice and, given the chaos I have to get through every morning, I can’t help but think they’ve got things right.

Not only would it rid us of the insanity at the school gate but it would take all those school run mums (and dads) off the roads – leaving the rest of you to get on with the rush hour in peace.