Friday, March 21, 2008

And so we say goodbye to a TV icon ...

IT’S BBC Radio Five Live at 3.22pm on Monday afternoon and it’s traffic news time.

The A40 near Oxford, a major trunk road, is closed because of an accident. So is the A13 east of London, the vital Thames Gateway route. And here comes the A17 in Lincolnshire, another major road closed. And then there’s the A50, a dual carriageway taking traffic cross-country from Stoke-on-Trent to the M1, also shut because of an accident.

What is going on? That’s four major trunk roads all closed at the same time on the same day because of so-called ‘accidents’. It’s beyond belief, beyond coincidence.

The answer is that none of those roads actually needed to be closed. The subsequently crippled transport network, that led to millions of lost hours worth millions of pounds as frustrated motorists sat in traffic jams didn’t have to happen at all. Blame it all on a combination of power-mad police chiefs and licensed jobsworths in the form of the Highways Agency.

It was a few years ago that the cops suddenly decided that every RTA, or road traffic accident, that might possibly eventually result in a death should be treated as a murder scene. Thus we have armies of boiler-suited policemen crawling along the carriageway looking for clues while a 20-mile tailback sits fuming behind them. And it gets worse.

Once the high visibility-jacketed muppets of the Highways Agency were recruited to take over many of the responsibilities of the low-visibility motorway police, the situation deteriorated into something resembling farce. Now, every time you set off on an important journey – perhaps to win a new order for your firm or negotiate a job-creating contract – the chances of you actually arriving at your destination within eight hours of the due time depend upon a sad group of men who live with their mothers, carry emergency Yorkies in their jacket pockets and who can recite clause number 72b (section C) of the 1995 Road Traffic Act verbatim.

You see, once you give this collection of social inadequates (and who else would want to be a pretend policeman?) the power to close major trunk roads and motorways, usually on the spurious grounds of health and safety, what are they going to do? Use it, of course. Otherwise there’d be no point to their pathetic existence.

Thus we have a slightly damaged Robin Reliant on the A66 near Scotch Corner resulting in the paralysis of north-east England. A milk tanker dribbling diesel outside Tamworth means that no-one can travel from the Midlands to the north. A caravan with a blow-out near Taunton means that families spend their Easter break on the M5, rather than at Centre Parcs. It is desperately unfair and it cannot be allowed to continue.

Instead of coning off vast tracts of our motorway network, those nerds in the black and yellow four-wheel-drive cars (and why fancy four-wheel-drive cars?) should instead be quipped with bulldozers. An accident happens, no-one dies, let’s get the road clear as soon as possible. Shift the debris quickly and brutally. It’s all going to be written off by the insurance company anyway, so why worry about any collateral damage?

The most important thing the jobsworths can do is get the traffic moving again as quickly as possible – not pratting about with their book of Health and Safety regulations in one hand and their spare Yorkie bar in the other.

ONE OF our greatest film and television personalities died this week. Not Anthony Minghella, director of The English Patient; not Arthur C. Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey; not Carol Barnes, fetching blonde newscaster. No, the real loss to our cultural lives this week was the death of John Hewer, aged 86.

John Hewer played the jovial, white-bearded Captain Birds Eye for more than 30 years until his brutal axing in 1998. As sales then dried up, and a vast cod mountain built up in a field on the outskirts of Grimsby, panicking executives swiftly brought the character back, but with another actor impersonating the original.

To demonstrate this showbiz giant’s influence, in 1993 Captain Birds Eye was voted as the most recognised sea captain in the world after Captain Cook. That might also say something about the quality of our education, but fish is regarded as ‘brain food’ so we’re not beyond help.

Incidentally, discussing the delights of a fish finger sandwich on buttered sliced white bread with a colleague this week, I was horrified to discover that he favoured mayonnaise as the essential condiment, rather than the mandatory tomato sauce. There really should be some kind of State register for weirdos like that. If not, you could mistakenly end up letting one of these perverts babysit your kids.

HE’S SURVIVED being hunted with dogs for decades, having a plethora of strange men shove their hands up his bottom, and seen off nouveau rivals in every shape from rats to Teletubbies. But now Basil Brush has met his match, scuppered by the Thought Police.

An episode of The Basil Brush Show is being investigated after police received a complaint of racism. A member of the public (yeah, right – step forward a frontline soldier in job-preserving, publicly-funded Turkey Army) reported a scene which showed a Gypsy woman trying to sell Basil Brush heather and pegs.

(That capital letter is important, because if we don’t use it some woman starts emailing me and accusing me of Holocaust denial).

Northamptonshire Police – and I’m honestly not making this up – say: “The complaint was logged as an incident of a racist nature and our Hate Crimes Unit is investigating.” So that’s children’s TV puppet Basil Brush, being investigated by the Hate Crimes Unit. It really is enough to make a cat laugh.

Meanwhile Bridie Jones, of the England Romany, Gypsy and Irish Traveller Network, bleats: “People are not allowed to joke about blacks or Asians any more because they would be taken to court, but when it comes to Gypsies or the Irish travelling community they mock us - and to them it’s not racist.

“We are the last group of people in this country who you can openly mock and make racist jokes about - who else is there?”

Sorry, love, but it seems to me that the hard-working, tax-paying, English middle classes are the butt of most jokes around here. Even when it isn’t remotely funny.


Anonymous skydog said...

F**k me! 2 offerings of Bazza in one week?

Is it a bank holiday or something?


1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Bazza Jezza by any chance? They seem to have a remarkable amount in common.

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was also thinking that this column reflects many aspects of jeremy clarksons opinions.

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you mean the famed Jemmy, our putative PM?
Sign up now for his promotion, and the end of carbon dioxide. ;)

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Never trusted that old Captain BirdsEye chap - not natural sailing around with all those young children on board if you ask me.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous skydog said...

Sod off! He's was CRB checked. :b

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So are the priests in the Vatican.

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Birds-eye is a kiddie fiddler!

2:35 AM  
Anonymous Stickers said...

I was going to leave exactly the same comment as anonymous (4:50 AM) but he beat me to it. I'm looking forward to the Pedants' Revolt, led by the brothers What and Which Tyler.

I agree with every word of the NUT article. I saw that twat on the evening news and nearly hurled the TV across the room.

5:23 AM  
Anonymous South Coast Copper said...

Being one of those involved on the policing side of removing heads of deceased motorcyclists from the carriageway, shoveling up the remains of dead children, or keeping someones arm attached at an accident scene that is currently being held on by one tendon, I just can't help but comment.

Closing a road, particularly a major trunk road at a serious accident happens for many reasons, the primary two being forensic preservation of the scene; and health and safety of those working it. It's not about 'power-crazed' police officers doing it for kicks. We hate being stuck in traffic jams as much as anyone else.

But if it was a member of your family, I'd at least like to think you'd take some comfort (nay expect) the police to treat it with the respect, dignity, and seriousness with which it deserves. 'Accidents' do not happen. 'Crashes' happen, and crashes happen for a reason. If that reason results in injury or death, then the person responsible will be reported/arrested.

If it results in no injury but is still causing traffic issues, then it may be necessary for a few minutes to close a road while the recovery vehicle(s) lift the remains. It's all well and good saying bulldoze them to the side of the road, but they still need collecting, which invariably will result in at least a 1 lane closure while it occurs.

I was chuckling to myself quietly agreeing with the majority of the content of this blog until I got to this post. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I hope providing you with some of the facts has helped.


South Coast Copper

11:07 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home