At the moment, my daily drive is on the M1, which has roadworks on it through ’til mid-2022. (Yes, it’s a joy) Throughout those roadworks there’s a speed limit of 50mph, which is monitored by average-speed cameras. And as I’ve been going through them, I come more and more to the conclusion that the average speed stuff isn’t actually all that safe.
More accurately, I don’t think they’re that safe when it comes to British drivers, and the habits that a lot of them have – which don’t appear to be the same as those of drivers in other countries.
The main problem with averaged 50mph limits is that it means everyone is driving at the same speed – cars, vans, HGVs, all at 50mph (or close to it) That means that the British-normal of last-minute lane changes for junctions are nigh-on impossible (although that doesn’t actually stop people from trying it) Instead, you need to be aware of the other lanes, and plan to be ready for the junction far further in advance.
Additionally, British drivers being what they are, turn off their brains completely when in average-speed areas, and will just stick to a particular lane with no regard or understanding of anyone around them, or of moving over into empty space to allow others past. On any given day, it’s terrifying to see just how many drivers are there, zoned out, sat in the outside lane and overtaking two lanes of fuck-all.
All told, it adds up to a whole bundle of unsafe situations at any given time of day. I can see (and have seen) people doing this shit at 6am, at 4pm, at 10pm, and at 2am. It just seems to be the way things are in these situations.
Fun and games, fun and games.
I regularly drive through Woburn, and at least a couple of times a week I’m amazed at how lazy people are, even when it comes to their own safety.
In the case of Woburn, there are two zebra crossings within a very short stretch of road. There are good reasons for this – the road is usually busy, and fairly fast. But people still cross away from the crossings, where it’s apparently “more convenient” rather than walking a tiny way to the crossing where cars *have* to stop for pedestrians…
The first one looks like this…
This is where most people cross – and you can see the markings for the zebra crossing at the top of the photo (the zig-zags, for non-UK readers) Note also that this is just after a busy crossroads, so has any number of vehicles coming round corners and paying far more attention to other vehicles than to pedestrians. I measured it on Google Maps – it’s 30 metres from here to the crossing. Not even a minute’s walk. (I’ll also note that all the people avoiding the crossing are able-bodied, so it’s not like they can’t walk that distance.)
The second one (slightly further up the road from here, after a tight choke-point and just round the corner so out of view from this one) looks like this
This one is a bit harder to see – it’s a bit further, at 45m from where people actually cross – but it’s still there, with markings visible across the road. Here, people cross from the pub to the hotel and back – and again, with parked cars on the right, an extremely tight road with drivers focusing on squeezing through rather than on pedestrians, people trying to park (or turn into the various lanes and archways along this bit) rather than walking that 45m to be able to do so safely.
I know people in general are lazy bastards and so on, but really, it utterly amazes me just how many (and even more so at school times, as there’s a school just back from where this shot is taken) are prepared to ‘save’ time waiting for a space in traffic and then risk their all to cross the road, rather than walking that tiny distance to do so safely (and actually usually more quickly than waiting for that gap!)
I don’t know if they don’t see the crossing, that they’re blinkered to just going straight across the road instead, or if they’re all just fuckwit examples of Darwinism waiting to happen. Either way, it is (to me) a gobsmacking way to live.
This morning, when I rocked up to my office, there was a guy apparently passed out across three of the parking spaces outside. I couldn’t tell much about him – he was asleep/comatose rather than visibly wounded or bleeding – but it still wasn’t a great situation. In particular I was aware of the upcoming rush hour, and of the speed (and stupidity, and lack of observational powers) of various drivers peeling into apparently empty parking spaces.
I didn’t know whether he’d chosen to sleep there, or had fallen over the railings separating the parking spaces from the pavement and bus stops.
So I ended up calling 101 (the non-emergency number for police services) to report the issue, and let the professionals handle it. As it turned out, I should’ve called 111 instead (the non-emergency number for NHS) but I’d forgotten that one, but remembered 101.
Anyway, the details were taken – but what surprised (and depressed) me was that my call was the first they’d heard of this particular man. It’s particularly depressing because where he was, he’d been completely visible to any number of people waiting at the bus-stop on the other side of the railings. (The bus-stop and pavement are slightly raised from the car-park level, so he was definitely visible)
I do understand that a lot of people don’t want to get involved, or all assume that someone else will be doing something. But still, I know that if it were me laying there, I’d at least hope that someone would call the emergency services about me as well.
I don’t know, maybe I’m still feeling all optimistic and stuff, but it just pisses me off when people simply ignore those in need. And yes, I probably could’ve done more as well – although my first-aid knowledge is rudimentary, and old – but I did what seemed right at the time.
(Oh, and to close this particular tale, he was OK, but intoxicated, and got taken to hospital as a precaution – I saw the ambulance people as they were about to leave, and asked how he was)
This week, I’ve found myself actually shocked by the news stories about Pret a Manger and their labelling – and more relevantly, the whole story about the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to unlabelled sesame in a Pret sandwich.
The inquest into Natasha’s death was this week – she died two years ago – which is why it’s been in the news this week.
It turns out that the UK’s Food Regulations 2014 have an exception that allows freshly handmade, non pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled – which is the loophole that allowed Pret to get away with not labelling each sandwich individually. To me, that’s disgraceful. The loophole was (understandably) intended for small sandwich bars etc. to not be constrained by huge amounts of red tape. It’s not intended for large commercial efforts. (Although of course they’ve taken advantage of it)
Even worse, Natasha isn’t even the first person to have died as a result of this mis-labelling or lack of information.
All told though, two things in the whole sorry story left me utterly gobsmacked and despairing of people and corporations.
The first was how badly the staff on the flight handled Natasha’s allergic reaction. The doctor who attended to her wasn’t made aware of all the equipment on the plane, and also that “because Natasha went into cardiac arrest as the plane was landing, it would have been unsafe to retrieve the defibrillator from the back of the plane, where it was stored, while Natasha was being tended to at the front” (that quote is from the Guardian story) I mean really, for fuck’s sake, how robotic and uncaring do you have to be, to go “Nope, I’m not going to get that, we’ve got to be prepared for landing the plane”?
The second thing – and to me, the worst – is the timescales involved. Pret a Manger knew about this issue when Natasha died. Two years ago. Yet it’s only now, once the coroner has finished the inquest, that they say “We’ll look at changing our labels“. That’s two years where they’ve known about the problem, and have done nothing. I wonder what the reaction would/will be if someone else turns out to have died for the same reason within that time.
I assume there’s been some corporate legal bullshit going on that says that if they changed the labels before the inquest, they’d be acknowledging they were liable, or some such. Thing is, they were – and are – liable. If the labels had been in place, she wouldn’t have taken that sandwich, and wouldn’t have died. How on earth can that be anything other than being responsible for her death?
Following on from Valentine’s Day, Channel 4 has a documentary series going about people who have allowed themselves to be paired up by scientists and specialists, signing up to meet on their wedding day. (It turns out that this is actually the third series of it in the UK – and the results on the previous two series haven’t been all that promising!)
They’ve done it with some run-up in order to do all the stuff like declarations of intent to marry, telling family and friends, and make all the preparations. So they get told that they’ve been paired up (and are now ‘engaged’) and then six weeks later they’ll meet for the first time and get married.
Thursday’s episode was the first one, and basically all the set-up and preparations. From there I assume it’ll be about the aftermath, and how they work out once the wedding is done.
Marriage is something that, to be honest, leaves me cold – it really hasn’t ever appealed to me at all, and it’s never been on the list of Things To Do. And so far, there’s never been anyone I’ve been with who’s changed that opinion, or made me think differently about it at all.
But I do still find it an interesting concept, and the whole arranged-marriage type thing, of seeing how people handle that and so on. Whether I continue watching the programme or not is a different matter, but for now it’s at least vaguely interesting. We’ll see.
About 18 months ago, I went to see Fish (the ex-lead-singer of Marillion) at a gig in Aylesbury, including performing the whole of Marillion‘s “Misplaced Childhood” album for its 30th anniversary.
This year, it was announced he’d be touring again, and this time performing both stuff from the new album, and the whole of the “Clutching At Straws” album – again, for its 30th anniversary.
As with “Childhood”, “Straws” isn’t among my all-time favourite albums, but they both got played a lot as I grew up, so it was still of interest to go and see it performed live. And I’m glad I did.
The gig started with some old favourites, but nothing new. And there was a reason for that – he hasn’t actually written the new album yet, let alone released it. When they advertised the gigs and organised the tour, they expected it to be done, but life got in the way. So… some classics instead of new stuff. Fine with me, and apparently fine with most of the audience too.
As for the performance of “Straws” itself, that was excellent, and brought back a bundle of memories of listening to the album, as well as re-realising just how bleak it is in places. There were also parts of it that they’d never performed live before this tour, including one track that was ad-libbed at the time, so Fish had to listen to the album in order to write down the lyrics to learn them for performance. Which is, when you think about it, pretty messed up.
Anyway, the gig was one I really enjoyed – in spite of the audience. As always, I really don’t understand the mindset of people who go to a concert, and then spend the entire gig going to and from the bar, and the toilet. The three people in front of me (it was a seated gig) were barely ever in their seats, and kept walking off. That’s not just a waste of their time and money, it’s also insanely annoying for the people around them, getting constantly disturbed and having to move.
But, audience aside, it was a good gig. It might be the last time he tours, it might not. It’s likely the last chance to see “Straws” performed like that, so it was definitely worth going.
On Friday morning, while it was still dark, I started the car to go to the client office – and one of the headlight bulbs blew.
I’m not a fan of driving with one bulb out, but in this case it was going to have to happen, so off I went, a bit more carefully than usual, as a bigger swathe of the road than usual was in darkness.
On the way home though, I dropped in to one of the local(ish) Halfords, and got a new bulb sorted and fitted. Yeah, in theory I could fit it myself – but seeing the struggle the lad had with getting to it (the space was extremely tight/narrow) I’d have had issues, so it makes sense to get them to do it. (Also, when he opened the packaging for the first bulb and dropped the bulb through the engine block, he just went to get a replacement – that wouldn’t have happened if it’d been me doing it!)
From start to finish, it took less than half an hour – even with the difficulties the lad had. And all for less than £20.
I really don’t get why so many people seem to have problems with getting bulbs replaced. Some people I see in the village have had the same bulb out for weeks, if not months. I understand that sometimes you just get used to the problem existing, rather than fixing it – but at the same time, working headlights are a pretty basic requirement, I’d have said.
And besides, if it’s only £20 all-in to fix it, really, I don’t get the point of not bothering. but maybe I’m missing something. Wouldn’t be the first time, after all.