As an addendum to my last first paragraphs I remembered too late that it was the driver drawing on a fag that alerted me to the unlit Mini’s presence. Who said smoking kills?
This was brought to mind when a couple of weeks later at dark o’clock of night I was approaching a green Pelican crossing/traffic lights at 30 mph. Two young teenage girls stepped off the pavement on my right with earphones in place and eyes only on their i player/e thingee. I assumed they would just continue into my path and braked. They did. They never looked up from their devices or registered any outside circumstances.
Now had I continued I would have been held responsible as the only one with insurance. I believe in France the bigger vehicle in a collision takes the majority of the responsibility because their size requires that. That is reasonable but in the old days steam gave way to sail (I’m talking floaty things) but a small dinghy would be stupid to expect a Queen Mary or Elizabeth (any of them) to change direction out of their way. And I was taught this as a youngster. So it still behoves us to stay safe because dead right is still dead, right. The two girls were stupid but was this genetic or nurture; i.e. they have never been expected to actually show common sense or think for themselves as all is laid on for them? And if it isn’t it is always someone else’s fault.
And this isn’t new or confined to teenagers, you only have to look at the lack of accountability in our MP’s, local government, social services, hospitals, police etc.
In other words they have no easily accessible peer example of taking responsibility for themselves to look up to and follow
The Dutch village of Drachten is an ongoing experiment in which most traffic signs and lights have been removed and this has forced drivers to concentrate on what is going on around them rather than rely on external safety features. The German village of Bohmte has followed suit. Both experiments are successful. This is fine and in my mind a good idea but is your average English driver/rider/pedestrian capable of coming up to European standards?
I have considered myself European since I was eleven and was confirmed in my attitude the first time I went to West Germany in 1976. But like Dave Gurman I also have a track record of thinking for myself and being prepared to make a stand. After all if he had taken up the advertisers offer he might one day be in a position to pay me for enjoying myself. The end rarely justifies the means.
Mostly what has brought the above rambling on is I am reading The Pike by Lucy Hughes-Hallet about Gabriele d’ Annunzio, the man who is to fascism what Marx was to communism. My knowledge of Marx is limited but d’ Annunzio doesn’t come across as anything more than a self obsessed teenager who never grew up. Exciting for those with limited sensibilities but nothing else. The book is not a gripping page-turner because the subject is utterly banal. The similarity with Mr. T. Blair is remarkable.
Now compare that with our own Boy Biker, eloquent, occasionally a prat (but aren’t we all) but thinking about the world he lives in and how he fits into it, not how it revolves around himself. Or Geoff Thomas and his Pooratech macho machine; making life challenging for himself without the need for vast expense or for others to die in huge numbers in stupid vainglorious campaigns. And both have entertained/educated us at the same time.
If only Marx and d’ Annunzio had taken up motorcycling as a life the twentieth century could have been so different. And Musso(lini) and Che (Guevara) don’t count, they were only bit players (but with the same mental limitations). Though obviously Musso’s taste in motorcycles is to be admired, and no, the rest of us Guzzisti are not like that even if I do follow Swindon Town F.C. in a halfhearted sort of way.
Is there any point to the above? Well yes, if you are reading this magazine you almost certainly fall into the group who know that rules are for the guidance of the wise and the blind obedience of fools and without us there is no hope for the rest of the fools out there. This certainly doesn’t make us One Percenters, I have no truck with outlaw bikers, and I think Armageddon prepers have missed the point, it makes us thinking people. Somebody else (One Track in MCS, when it was worth reading, I think) once wrote he would rather employ a motorcyclist than a non-motorcyclist as their minds will be more open. And as Frank Zappa put it ‘the mind is like a parachute, if it is not open it will not work’.
An ancient Guzzisti