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August 2009 - On The Road Again

I have had occasion, over the last month or so, to do quite a bit of traveling around on the wonderful roads of England and Wales.  It will, therefore, be of little surprise to my faithful devotees that I'm about to "go off on one", as I believe the vernacular puts it, on one of my favourite subjects once again.

I have made mention in many previous editions of the numerous things which get me a little hot under the collar once I position myself in the driver's seat of the rapid racer and endeavor to head off into the wild blue yonder.

It is becoming clear to me, however, that all the previous things which have caused me annoyance when I'm out on the road are paling into insignificance in comparison to the effect being had on the average motorist by the brainwashing about speed being perpetrated by our nanny state.

I almost used the phrase "rapidly paling into insignificance" back there, but, on reflection, "rapidly" is the one word which has no place at all in this month's edition of Nick Harvey's Comment.

So welcome along, dear viewers to the August episode, part two-hundred-and-ninety-nine of "Road Rage for Beginners", or "How Not to Get from Wiltshire to Carmarthenshire in Less Than Ten Hours".

I have to say that The National Botanic Garden of Wales was excellent once 'er indoors and I eventually got there.  It was just the incredible length of time it took to reach our destination which rather took the edge off the day.

Aberglasney wasn't bad either, later in the afternoon.  Far better, it has to be said, than the trip back along the A40 as a change from too much of the M4.  It was whilst proceeding at about the pace of dear old Mr Snail, in an easterly direction along the A40, that most of the ideas which follow came into my mind.

Having failed miserably to convince any of the British public that there are sufficient helicopters supporting our troops in Afghanistan, how on earth has our glorious government managed to successfully convince the same bunch of sceptics that, at all times, they must drive no faster than ten miles an hour below the speed limit in force at any particular time?

Oh, and don't forget that that's after exactly the same government has been round and reduced nearly every bloomin' speed limit in the land by ten miles an hour in the first place.

It's (I nearly said "rapidly" again about here) becoming impossible for any normal person, with a normal appointment elsewhere in the country, to get there in less than twice the time it used to take them only about ten years ago.

Wherever you go on a fairly average main road, the national sixty limit has been reduced for lengthy stretches to just fifty for no apparent reason.  However, Mr Average Motorist, up there at the head of the long queue, brainwashed by Uncle Gordon and Auntie Prudence, will always drive at precisely thirty-five and not a single mile an hour faster.

Stretched out behind him, in a line, are enough impatient other motorists, with places to go, things to do and people to see, to make your average caravan-puller a proud and happy man.

In the end, it's usually one of the poor, impatient motorists who gets involved in the accident and has to take all the blame; when the root cause of the whole debacle was the slow idiots up at the front of the queue actually causing all the impatience in the first place.

And why is it that the second vehicle in the queue will never have any intention whatsoever of overtaking the slow leader, yet he insists on driving right on, or almost in, the leader's tailgate, just so nobody else behind can overtake them because they form too big a combined obstacle to pass?

What we need here, I've decided, is a Nick Harvey change to the law.  As I haven't got any moss which needs to be removed from my garden on expenses, I'm thinking of standing for parliament the next time round, as I must have a far better chance of being elected than the current incumbent.  Then I'll just shin rapidly up the political ladder to the post of Minister of Transport and start to implement my lovely little plan.

I can't remember all the detail, but somewhere back in the mists of time I'm sure I remember either a law or a Highway Code recommendation that very slow vehicles, like tractors, must pull in every so often, every couple of miles I think, to let any queue which has built up behind them go past.

I shall extend this ruling to all vehicles moving slower than ten miles an hour below the current limit, definitely make it law and make the penalty for failure to obey at least five years in prison.  None of these stupid fixed penalty tickets, thank you very much.  If you're simply incapable of driving at a speed very closely approaching the speed limit, then you shouldn't be out on the road in the first place; and prison is a damn fine place to put people to make sure they're not out on the road.

If anyone really wants to drive at any speed slower than ten miles an hour below the current limit, then that has to be their prerogative if they insist, but my new law will make them have to pull in and stop at least once every mile to let the sensible drivers go past and get to their destinations on time.

Now we come to those idiots who like to position themselves second in the queue, never have any intention of overtaking the slowcoach and stop anyone further back in the queue getting past by not leaving a gap to overtake into.

The penalty for the driver of the second vehicle for not leaving at least a six car's length gap between the first and second vehicles in the queue, when that second vehicle has no intention of overtaking, shall also be five years inside.

And when I say five years, by the way, I mean five years.  None of this anagram of carp about how he's shown lots of remorse for me being late for my important business appointment and promised to be a good boy in the future, so we'll let him out again after two years, just to hold up yet another queue as he drives slowly to his Probation Officer's office for his interview.

No, stick all the idiot slow drivers in the glasshouse, I say; and leave them in there to rot.  Then the rest of us, sensible people, can get back to going about our business in a timely manner.

And when I say the glasshouse, dear viewers, I don't mean the Great Glasshouse at the National Garden.  That's far too nice a place to send the arafs, as I have decided to christen them, for some reason possibly connected with messages painted on Welsh roads.

The word 'arafs' actually works out as quite a nice acronym if you think about it.  It stands for 'another road, another slowy'!  Yes madam, I know there's an "f" in there as well, but Nick Harvey is far too polite to explain its meaning on this, a family show.  I'll leave you all to work it out for yourselves!

So, do I appear to be slowly getting towards the end of this month's momentous edition of Nick Harvey's Comment then?  Well, as previously mentioned, I'm certainly not getting anywhere particularly rapidly any more.

Roll on the General Election, I say.  Then I can start to put my wonderful plan into action.  In the meantime, I suppose I'd better give myself plenty of time to prepare for the September edition of Comment, to appear, as ever, on the first of the month.

I trust you'll all join me, promptly, for that one.  I'll try not to get held up in the traffic and be late.  Right, I'm off, where's me Sat Nav?

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