‘Tis the Season

Had my first Christmas dinner today. (Don’t you hate the word ‘Xmas?’) It was in the canteen (sorry, ‘staff restaurant’) consisting of veggie soup followed by turkey (a bit dried out) with an even more dried out lump of stuffing on top. I passed on the sprouts, roasters, carrot batons etc and went for a hillock of creamed spuds. Plus the European Gravy Lake to rehydrate the offering. Only two more helpings to go before I finish for the holiday. Whoopee do.

A Christmas cracker was included as part of the jollity, but dining alone, I had to pull it with myself. Inside was a paper hat (wpb), a small, green, plastic spinning top (wpb) and a joke, or mottos as they used to call them. Sad person that I am, I had to read it to myself: “Why can’t cars play football? Because they only have one boot!” Oh, how we laughed.

To help us celebrate, HR got round to advising on the use of mobile phones when driving. Good effort, guys, only a week late. This helpfully told me that my conditions of employment do not include an expectation that I will pick-up whenever the moby rings, so no work subsidised hands-free kit then.

But it also told me, and I paraphrase, that should I forget to turn off my mobile before driving, if it rings, I should answer briefly, explain that I’m driving and promise to call back when I can stop. Whoa! That is still illegal and likely to cost me thirty quid. When questioned, HR claimed this was based on police advice. Presumably the same advice that it’s quite okay to put your foot down when passing speed cameras!

As ever, our legislators have missed the point. This law is sold as “not being in control of your vehicle” because both hands aren’t on the wheel. This has been leapt upon by the control freaks who say you shouldn’t smoke, change CDs, look at your hair in the mirror, eat a McD, get hypnotised by your air-freshener or pick your nose without being pulled over and thrown bodily over the bonnet. “Book him, Danno!”

Hands not on the wheel is not the problem. We do that all the time without endangering life and limb. But trying to hold a conversation is a problem, that’s the distraction. Tests show that concentrating on the phone makes you four times more likely to miss approaching dangers.

And before anyone mentions conversations with passengers as being the same thing, there are two points. One, the passenger can see through the windscreen just as well as the driver. They know when to shut up. Second, the passenger is travelling as precisely the same mph as the driver; they have an incentive to shut up when things get hairy. Mobile phone conversationalists share neither attributes of self-preservation.

On the motoring front, the Jonny Wilkinson prang has caused an over-hyped reaction in our glorious free-press. Jonny Cheats Death” screamed the Sun. A minor shunt said the police. And Jonny was not so rattled that he couldn’t pick up his MBE at the palace the day after.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

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