Thursday, 4 December 2008

Necessary journeys

Now then. Winter in the UK and we're having a bit of a cold spell. This means we'll soon be in for a forest of well-intentioned advice, from local authorities, police, the Highways Agency and others of their ilk, all rushing to warn Motorists not to travel unless their journey is really necessary.

This hardy perennial can be guaranteed to pop up every winter, and I swear it only does so to irritate me.

"Motorists" for a start. I'd like to see this term banished to the history books. It's redolent of a bygone age, of the illicit pleasures of Mr Toad, a new and daring pursuit for the well-to-do. It belongs in that era when a smart young cad-about-town would take a young filly for a spin through country lanes, or a family might pack the perfect picnic hamper and set-off with their perfectly scrubbed children for a charabanc outing to a summer meadow, there to meander without care, or bask in the afternoon sun, blowing dandelion clocks and taking in the heady aroma of wildflowers, as the ....... well, you get the picture. The point is, life on four wheels just isn't like that anymore! It may sound like a minor thing, but I actually think that the continued use of this term is damaging, as it allows governments and regulatory bodies to continue to paint the car user as somehow removed from the rest of responsible society. Once you've positioned them thus, it becomes a bit easier to clobber them with draconian regulations, of the sort that require the suspension of normal rules of evidence and legal procedure. After all, they're Motorists, they're not like you and me. Wrong! They ARE you and me, and it's time, I say, for those in authority to acknowledge that driving a car is something that people do, and will continue to do.

Oops...heading off on a rant. Calm down dear!

When is a journey necessary? Well, again, it's all anchored in the past, isn't it? Those jolly country jaunts weren't necessary, but who makes that sort of trip in miserable winter weather conditions? In fact, given the state of Britain's roads and the level of traffic congestion we have today, does anyone really head out there for pleasure? A dark night, blizzard conditions, floods, plage and pestilence? I know: let's go for a drive! I'm not convinced.

As I write this, darkness has fallen in London and it's started to rain again. You wait. Any minute now, some herbert will be on the radio with another of these infernal warnings. Well, I just don't care. Home is where I want to be and that makes my journey necessary.

Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye. I may be some time.

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