Friday 27 June 2008

Keep Death Off The Road

This is, of course, good news - but what's striking about it is how dangerous the roads were in 1926, when car ownership was a luxury limited to the relatively prosperous (though the record year for road deaths in the UK remains 1941, when they topped 9,000, presumably owing to the blackout). Back in the deadly 20s, a chap could stroll in to a car showroom, pick a model, have a little chat with the salesman, then drive off - as did my own grandfather, a gentleman of Victorian vintage (long generations on that side of the family) who should never have been allowed behind the wheel (like me, I suspect). When 'driving', he would lounge in his seat, as if enjoying a cigar at the club, his legs negligently crossed over the pedals. Naturally this caused a degree of brake-accelerator confusion and many run-ins with idiot motorists who had foolishly got in his way. After he sailed serenely into the side of a bus, with all his family aboard, my grandmother finally prevailed on him to give up the automobile for ever. For myself, I have never driven


  1. NIGE, never driven ? As George said to Saddam, Sir I salute you, your indefatigability, etc, etc. Not that you or I bear any resemblance whatever to Toobad and Sindbad. The road accident figures are, I suspect, more to do with the general slowing of traffic through congestion and more carefull lady drivers than any government initiative. Since retiring I have gone from ridiculous to sublime, from 50,000 miles per year to hardly any, this is because of a ban imposed by Frau Malty after I demolished her pride and joy some years ago, in truth I don't miss driving much, an awfull lot of reading can be done in the passenger seat.
    One night in 1965 I drove from Carshalton to Bromley via Croyden during what must have been the last pea souper, police with flaming torches on every roundabout and junction, it took 3 hours.

  2. Ah, I remember a high speed chase through the back streets of Croydon, culminating in a hair-raising overtaking manoeuvre in one of those narrow streets in the Old Town. That was back in my misspent youth of course, and fortunately it wasn't me at the wheel. I remember that last pea souper too - those were the days...

  3. I don't drive either, Nige. I did learn, late in life, and got a license. Absolutely hated it. Gave it up.