Saturday, November 08, 2008

The perils of wearing a trilby while driving

THE GOOD weather of a couple of weekends ago brought out the Sunday drivers en masse around our way. Unfortunately they all seemed to be elderly men wearing hats.

Now something happens to a man when he takes that major lifestyle decision to start wearing a hat while inside a motor vehicle. Why this should be necessary is something of a mystery. They’re not going to get wet, are they? And those thinning locks are hardly going to need an expensive hairdo should they be disturbed by the breeze. But this is a democratic country, and if a trilby is deemed de rigueur for driving, then so be it.

It’s what happens to the brain of the hat-wearer that troubles me. There must be some scientific evidence that the resultant constriction of the forehead, or perhaps cranial overheating, causes everything around them to start moving very fast – a bit like the ‘interesting’ morning I suffered after picking mushrooms for breakfast from the field at the back of the house. I know this because the hat-wearer then begins to compensate by doing everything really, really slowly – including making painful progress along the Queen’s highway. Spatial awareness is also obviously impaired, leading them to settle in the middle of the road ad nauseam, effectively blocking any overtaking attempt.

Or perhaps it’s just because these people are clearly very old, and probably shouldn’t be driving anything more dangerous than a mobility scooter in the first place.

I don’t know if 86-year-old Allan Skoyles was wearing a hat when he ploughed into three pedestrians outside a church in Norfolk, maiming one and – according to a judge – contributing to the eventual death of another. But I do know that Mr Skoyles, who is registered deaf, has undergone eight heart operations and suffered a stroke which leaves him barely mobile, shouldn’t have been driving anything more dangerous than a mobility scooter in the first place. Are we quite mad, allowing nonsense like this?

MORE CLASS warfare. Bournemouth Council has banned staff from using Latin words because they are “elitist and discriminatory”.

I’m not talking about full-blown extracts from Homer here, or even the phrase Pulchritudo et Salubritas, which adorns the crest of … err … Bournemouth Council, but everyday additions to our language of which most people understand the meaning even if they don’t know the literal translation, eg (sorry) bona fide, status quo, vice versa and et cetera.

(There are a couple of examples up above for you as well, albeit not Latin ones per se.)

If this had been done to make council missives clearer and more understandable, I would have some sympathy, but it’s not: the word “elitist” gives the game away. Latin is being banned because only ‘toffs’ have been taught it; the common herd of hooded chavs lurking around the gates of our comprehensives struggle with English, never mind anything more testing.

Funnily enough, I don’t recall them banning words like bungalow, jodphurs or even thugs, all words of equally foreign origin. And Pulchritudo et Salubritas? Beauty and health, if you were educated after they disbanded grammar schools.

I BET that when the forces of the liberal Left suddenly realised that they’d have to stand up to the Daily Mail’s new self-appointed role of national moral guardian, they didn’t think they’d be defending Jeremy Clarkson.

It’s a delicious irony that the motor-mouthed petrol-head, scourge of cyclists, lentil-eaters and yoghurt-knitters everywhere, finds himself next on the hit list after a slightly dodgy comment about lorry drivers having a predilection for murdering prostitutes. (Dodgy, perhaps, but undeniably true – see Peter Sutcliffe and the Suffolk Strangler, both one-time HGV merchants.)

In the wake of the Brand/Ross affair, the cross the BBC now has to bear is the launch of an immediate lynch mob the second anyone steps out of line. An iffy joke, a slightly off-colour comment, and the complaining classes will come pouring out of the bingo halls screaming ‘Burn the witch’ and calling for Alan Titchmarsh to be made Chief Government Censor. It’s an end to innovation and risk-taking. Welcome to the New Puritanism.

Of course, as plenty of other writers have pointed out this week, if we’d been living under that stifling yoke for the past 30-odd years, there would have been no Monty Python, no Fawlty Towers (and therefore, with splendid synchronicity, no Andrew Sachs), no Till Death Us Do Part, no Blackadder, no The Day Today, no The Thick Of It … the list is endless: all special programmes that raised the bar in one way or another which would have been smothered at birth by the Daily Mail’s puritanical pillow.

And why risk offending anyone at all? As Charlie Brooker suggested in The Guardian: “Perhaps it’s time to put a ‘Complain to Ofcom’ button right there on the remote control: if enough viewers press it, the show gets yanked immediately, like a bad variety act being pulled off stage by a shepherd’s crook.”

On the other hand, we could just acquire a sense of perspective about the whole thing. So 30,000 people complained about that evil slur on the innocent young stripper, dominatrix and porn star Georgina Baillie? So what? That’s at least 49,245,000 of the adult population who didn’t and that, I would suggest, is a far better guide to the national conscience.

DRIVING PAST one of those small business parks yesterday, I saw four tow-trucks lined up in menacing fashion outside one of the buildings. A prima facie case of a small company about to have its reps’ cars repossessed. The bank calling in overdrafts or the finance company playing hard ball? Either way, a worrying sight indeed. Caveat emptor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As far as Skoyles and his ilk are concerned, there are already measures in place to deal with people who become medically unfit to drive - their GPs are supposed to blow the whistle to the DVLA. Unfortunately, in my experience, most GPs put the continued mobility and hence independence of their patients above the safety of other road/pavement users. Training GPs in risk assessment might be worthwhile.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Elitist and proud of it said...

I agree that 'ad nauseum' isn't Latin. On the other hand, if you spelled it correctly, 'ad nauseam,' it would be.

4:00 AM  
Blogger BarryBeelzebub said...


5:59 AM  
Anonymous tony b.liar said...


Your comments about "The New Puritanism" are well taken, and one finds little to disagree with........err, EXCEPT that Wosser is a talent-free jerk who is paid to entertain, rather than play cruel and tasteless "jokes" on sad 78 year olds. If he had done the same to MY Grandad, I'd have had the boys round PDQ to give him a deserved going over. Funny you should mention "Ad Nauseam", because I have just purchased a copy of the same by Derek & Clive. It is the most appalling prnographic, obscene piece of shite I have ever heard - it's terrific stuff!! It was never on air - but then it was never intended to be. "Caveat emptor" indeed!!

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Jack said...

At the time of Sutcliffe's incarceration there was a TV Ad about lorry drivers and their love of chocolate bars and so came the joke about a lorry driver who said, "Oh I could murder a Yorkie!"

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, the reason why GPs won't rat on their patently incapable patients is that they would then not be able to get to the surgery, the one with the nice warm waiting room, and the GP would then have to either go visit or get the NHS to cough for transport. Plus, as you've pointed out a thousand times before Bazza, once the houses get thin on the ground, so do the buses.

But the good thing about trilby hats is that you can see them from behind. Much the same can be said about baseball caps. They tell the mentally capable all they need to know about the standard of driving they might expect and warn us all to act accordingly. If you can't see the trilby 99 times out of ten it is being obscured by a caravan which again tends to be a bit of a clue. God moves in mysterious ways (and usually without checking His mirror or signalling).

1:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baz said - "86-year-old Allan Skoyles .... shouldn’t have been driving anything more dangerous than a mobility scooter in the first place. Are we quite mad, allowing nonsense like this?"
Tut Tut Baz - that would infringe his human rights!

1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Baz, you missed 'Illegitimis non carborundum (or, Don't let the bastards grind you down).
Technically not real Latin, but a pseudo-Latin joke and certainly good enough for this forum!

Have a look at if you want to learn more.

4:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think most GPs don't rat them out because they then face a shitstorm of lawsuits and aggravation. The GP thinks "well, statistically he's unlikely to hit _me_ if I leave him driving"...

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All-in-all, what a bore. Yawwwwwnnnnnn!!!!!!!!

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Friend of mine works for the Revenue and mentions that they cannot use certain words in official letters - and we're talking English words, here; not just Latin.

Apparently, the Bosses think that the general population wouldn't understand big words...

As for the 86-year-old numpty, down my way we had the case recently of an older driver who mounted the kerb and crashed into the frontage of a shop on the high-street. Thing is, he was parked at the time - his defence was that he pressed the wrong pedal.

12:17 PM  
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9:45 PM  

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