Sunday, July 19, 2015


On Thursday evening, a retired solicitor called Don Lock was driving along the A24 near Worthing in West Sussex when he had a minor bump in his car, running into the vehicle in front of him. An everyday occurrence.

What followed was not.

When the 79-year-old great-grandfather got out of his car, the driver of the car he’d hit stabbed him repeatedly. Despite the attempts of attending paramedics, Mr Lock died at the scene.

Up to that point, Don Lock must have felt life was smiling on him. He had just celebrated 55 years of marriage, had recently been given the all-clear after a cancer diagnosis, was fit enough to be cycling up to 150 miles a week, and was looking forward to the birth of his sixth great-grandchild later this year.

The man who stabbed him to death jumped back into his car and fled the scene. A theory was voiced that he may have been excessively angered by the collision because the car Mr Lock hit was a classic.

Armed police arrested a suspect nearby and have until midnight on Sunday to question him. Time will tell if they have the right man or not, but reports suggest they “are not looking for anyone else” in connection with the crime.

People living nearby have expressed their shock at the incident., not least because the area in which is happened is “quiet and picturesque.”

Sadly, road rage is not unusual at all in the UK. I’m ashamed to report that we are world leaders when it comes to this particular modern menace, with more than 80% of drivers claiming to have experienced it at some point or another.

Nine out of ten drivers in the UK claimed to have been a victim of road rage at least once, while 20% claimed to have been the victim on more than ten occasions. A disappointing 70% admitted committing it themselves.

Kenneth Noye (left) who was convicted of the 1996 murder of Stephen Cameron in a road rage incident on the M25

Incidents range from gesturing and verbal abuse to violent assault, although fortunately murders seem to be rare. One in 7 claimed the aggressor had got out of their own vehicle to verbally or physically abuse them. Only 7% reported any incident to the police.

In a survey conducted by one of the motoring magazines of readers typically aged between 16 and 30, it was found that the worst time was afternoon or evening, and the worst place to be was a town in the south-east.

The usual scapegoat for bad driving in the UK – White Van Man – was cited in 13% of incidents.
It all makes you think twice before you gesture rudely to some tosser who’s just cut you up on the motorway or pulled out in front of you. I’ve taken to simply giving them a broad smile and a wave – it confuses them no end!

On a slightly different note, the lovely Sarah Ward – reviewer extraordinaire whose debut novel, IN BITTER CHILL just came out – invited me to take part this week in an event for the Buxton Fringe, a new part of the Buxton Festival.

The event was held in the village hall at Chelmorton, and as well as myself there was Steven Dunne, Keith Nixon and Chris Simms in attendance. Some great questions, some happy readers buying books, and even a glass of wine to celebrate Sarah’s fledgling literary career. Who can argue with that?

(l to r) Sarah Ward, Steven Dunne, Keith Nixon, Chris Simms, Zoë Sharp at Chelmorton village hall

This week’s Word of the Week is biblioclasm, meaning the destroying of books or other written material, particularly the Bible. Or, alternatively, you could have libricide, which also means the destruction of books. Somehow, the former suggests a catastrophic disaster in which every book meets its maker, while in the latter a single library perishes.


  1. Zoe, I think you may have hit on the reason why road rage is so prevalent in Britain. It's what happens when members of a too polite society drive a car. I offer a case in point. I don't think my husband ever suffered from (enjoyed?) road rage, but he did have steering-wheel-induced tourette's syndrome. A monumentally kind and polite man elsewhere, he turned the air between his nose and the windshield blue. He never used bad language, ever anywhere else. But even when our daughter was in the car he could not help letting loose a few expletives.
    One day while driving to the country, we had five-year-old her and her little friend in the back seat. I heard her say, "Wanna play shoot the bastards?" The other girl immediately agreed and asked, "What's a bastard?" Kerry Ann answered, "It's a car that passes you on the road."

    1. How weird, that's my definition too! Actually, being serious, I always pull over and let someone past if they're driving right up my exhaust pipe. I'd rather come upon their accident later than be a part of it!

  2. The problem with driving (and what unleashes road-rage) is that it puts complete strangers in close proximity with deadly weapons (vehicles), while maintaining each in their own separate environment, so each feels secure in their environment while having their secure environment constantly impinged upon (and impugned) by these violent others.

    I am VERY looking forward to auto-driven autos...

    1. Computer-controlled road rage. Have you never *seen* the Terminator movies, EvKa ...?

      I've found that driving a convertible automatically makes you more polite, because everyone can hear if you start swearing at them in traffic!

  3. I just returned from the land where road rage takes a back seat to road warriors, for there it seem everyone is so intent on watching for drivers coming at you around blind curves in your lane that there is no time to gesture back or curse. Well, almost no time.

  4. It is because there are no police on the roads as their budgets are cut