Blog : Posts tagged with 'cars'

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Overheard

In which we spot something to tempt a thief


Or, rather, overseen.

Walking along the street, in a fairly quiet neighbourhood, but not so dead that there’s nobody in sight. A man pulls up in a fairly battered 20-year-old car. He stops it, gets out, and pops into a shop – leaving the car unlocked with the keys inside and the engine ticking over.

Either this man is some sort of well-known local underworld bigwig, or he’s so blasé he doesn’t care. Or, possibly, he was hoping it would disappear when he returned. Maybe its starter was so dodgy, he didn’t dare risk turning the thing off. I had turned the street before he returned, but nobody looked likely to try jumping inside and driving it away.

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Skill

In which we think we know how to drive


I seem to be becoming a worse driver.

This isn’t by my own judgement, but by the judgement of other people. Specifically, more and more people seem to have started beeping me for doing The Wrong Thing. I’m not sure what the problems are. I always signal, I travel at a reasonable speed,* I try to drive assertively and take up the appropriate space on the road. There’s nothing wrong with the car, so far as I can tell. So why have people decided to start beeping me all of a sudden?**

H, incidentally, has suggested I should teach her how to drive. And I realised, thinking about it, that I have no idea at all any more how to drive, or rather, how to explain how to drive. The manuals I assume say something like: “press gently with your right foot and at the same time lift your left foot up until you start to feel the clutch engage, then increase power whilst raising your left foot smoothly and releasing the handbrake”. If you drive, though, you don’t consciously do all that; you just wiggle your feet a bit and you’re away. I have no idea how I would go about explaining all the various simultaneous processes to someone, in a car without dual controls.

* usually at the speed limit. Honest, officer. Ahem.

** or wave their fist and shout “Wanker!” like the cyclist the other day. OK, I pulled out in front of him. It was thick fog, he was wearing dull clothing, and didn’t have any lights on his bike, so when I started moving I had no idea at all he was there. Tosser.

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Friday again

In which Big Dave breaks the law


And huzzah for that!

I’ve been thinking about having a new feature on the site: Readers’ Letters. I get you to write in with questions that aren’t suitable for a normal comment-box entry, and I answer them. I was thinking of doing it today, in fact, but I couldn’t be bothered to make all the questions up as well as the answers. So, if you have anything you want to ask, email my usual address: feedback at symbolicforest.com

I also should get around to rearranging the post categories. As time goes by I find myself referring back to previous posts more and more often; and spending more and more time searching for previous posts that I know are in the archive somewhere. Better categorisation should mean less searching, hopefully. After all, all categorisation systems change over time – look at how libraries work.

Big Dave has a new car. Not new new, but new to him – he bought it off his dad at a bargain price. “You know what,” he said, “it does 140mph, and it still had some power left in it. And that was just up the London Road – I haven’t tried it on a motorway yet.” I’m going to be staying indoors more from now on. I’m happy to trundle along at the speed limit myself. If I want to drive something that can do that speed, I’ll try and get a job as a train driver.

Listening to people chatting about What Was On The Telly Last Night, I suddenly realised – I haven’t watched a thing all week. Instead I’ve been listening to music, largely because I’ve been playing with Last.fm, the website that shows everyone else what you’re listening to. In my case, it largely shows the world what a twee indiekid I am, but that’s because my record collection is heavily biased. There’s an awful lot of music that I like but don’t own, because I don’t know enough to know what to get.

Anyway, that’s enough nonsense for this week – there is a cup of tea cooling in the kitchen, and I need waking up.

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Disgusting

In which we do not like an empty justification


Today’s Guardian front-page story: an advisor to parliament called Robert Gifford is using July 7th as an excuse for advocating automatically prosecuting anybody driving without a seatbelt or whilst using the phone – and, by extension, tracking all cars in the country. The logic behind this: the evil murderers used a car shortly before the attack.

Similar car-tracking plans have been around for a while; as existing car-tracking systems are expanded, the police push and push for them to be extended to the entire major road network. I don’t like the idea. What really sickens me, though, is people like Robert Gifford who try to sell the proposals by bringing up July 7th. Yes, Mr Gifford, like most people in the country, the July 7th murderers travelled by car. That does not mean that they would have been stopped if the police knew where their car was.*

There may be legitimate reasons for car-tracking – stopping banned and uninsured drivers, for example. Stopping terrorism is definitely not one of them; and Robert Gifford is a horrible and reprehensible person for trying to make you think it is.

* Unless, of course, the police are going to stop every car from Northern England that suddenly appears in the Home Counties.

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Panic Buy

In which I have trouble finding petrol


The car went in to the garage this morning, following the crash a couple of weeks back. The car I was loaned, of course, didn’t have any petrol in. Hardly any at all. The warning light was very definitely on, and the needle was barely lifting off its stop.

“No problem,” thought I, “there are plenty of petrol stations on the way in to the office.”

Not many with petrol, though.

Whether there is going to be a petrol blockade this week or not, clearly that’s what a lot of people have been expecting. Driving from the garage to the office, I passed three petrol stations closed from lack of supplies: “open later today”, one said. Eventually, reaching an open one, I sat in a ten-minute queue which had doubled in length by the time I left. We don’t need a blockade – the panic-buying has already started.

Update, September 13th: I found out later that the closed garages hadn’t actually run out of petrol at that point; they were closed for other reasons. However, as everyone (including me) assumed they had run out, it didn’t help things at all. People were already queueing heavily at 7.30 this morning.

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Crash

In which I am driven into


It’s Friday lunchtime. I’ve popped into town just to get out of the office for an hour, and now it’s time to head back to work. Into the car, and I’m gently drifting through the car park towards the exit with a CD playing loudly,* when…

Something is moving too close to me, but before I can respond – BANG!

A big, dark car has driven right into the side of me. I jump out of the car in a great panic, forgetting to turn off the engine or even try to take the key out.

I had absolutely no idea what to do. I’ve been in crashes before, but only ever as a passenger. This was the first time that anything bad had happened to my own car. I was shaky, jittery, shocked and adrenalin-flooded. No idea what I should be doing, other than taking down the other driver’s name and address. Looking back, though, luck was on my side. I’m not hurt, and the shock went away after a few hours. The car still works. I can still drive it, even if it does have a big, nasty dent in the side. If I’d been hit a foot further forward, the door would probably be unusable; and I’d have possibly been hit too. If it was a foot further back, the back axle might well have been wrecked. As it is, though, I just have a big dent until the garage can manage to get hold of some replacement panelling.

* An Add N To (X) album, if you must know

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