In which we think we know how to drive
Published at 12:45 pm on March 31st, 2007
Filed under: Dear Diary.
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 what they think is 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.
Keyword noise: bad driving, cars, cycling, driving, fog, learning to drive, safety, speeding, teaching.
In which we know why things explode
Published at 8:25 pm on December 11th, 2005
Filed under: Political.
I know it’s only a few hours since the Buncefield oil storage depot exploded, but I’d like to jump in already and hazard a guess as to what the primary cause was. The immediate cause will no doubt be something like a leaky joint and an unexpected spark; but the primary cause will probably end up being reactionary maintenance policies: engineers being instructed not to replace anything until after it’s already broken.
This is entirely a guess on my part, I must say. However, most of the fuel
stored burning at Buncefield is piped there from the Lindsey refinery, owned and run by Total, the same company that runs Buncefield. And, coincidentally, just the other day I was chatting to a friend of mine who works there. Total had just been fined £12,500 for a serious oil leak at Lindsey, and we started talking about how it had been caused.
“We don’t do preventative maintenance any more,” he told me. “Lindsey’s idea of maintenance is: wait until something starts leaking, then patch it up.” Which, when you don’t catch it in time, leads to nasty leaks. Some of them, like the one at Lindsey, are just pollution problems; others go up in flames. If the sort of maintenance regime used at Lindsey is standard at Buncefield too, it’s easy to guess what the cause of today’s explosion may have been.
Keyword noise: Buncefield, explosion, Hemel Hempstead, Lindsey Oil Refinery, maintenance, news, oil spill, refinery, safety, Total.