Friday, 9 July 2010

Just a thought

It’s just a thought, one of those bats that flits through the empty belfry of the freelancer’s cranium.

(I’ve heard it said that one of the reasons that we freelancers spend so much time fettling up the lance between campaigns is that we have a short attention span. Bad habits from an early age. Hence, it’s just the one thought. Invoice in the post.)

This particular thought is a thought about a - never mind.
The point is: the following notice has appeared on Stockport Road in Marple.

Can you see that? It says:

Young drivers THINK

There’s a thought. One would like to think that this thought is founded on observation, but I haven’t found any evidence to back it up. However, I expect that it’s the considered view of our friends over at Traffic Services in the Stockport Communities, Regeneration and Environment Directorate, CRED for short. (I mustn’t knock CRED. By this time next year, I fear the Big Society will just be a Big Hole, and that our liberal democrat council will have lost its street CRED altogether.)

Mrs M and M1 rage against this sign every time they pass it. It’s making a terrible mess of the Fiesta.

Mrs M is a great defender of modern youth. Returning recently from one of our family outings to Pizza Hut and the Royal Exchange in Manchester, for instance, Mrs M observed that the younger Ms ahead of us were having difficulty persuading a G4S security operative (who has replaced the ticket inspector) at Piccadilly Station to let them board the Marple Express.

The boys’ rational arguments appeared to be having little impact on Mr G4S: mere boyish reason was nothing to him. I don’t know whether it was the force of Mrs M’s reason, or the end of the rounders bat poking out of her capacious handbag, but, at her appearance, Mr G4S quickly waved the Mandalls and the rest of middle-aged, middle-class rabble onto the Marplestar.
“They always try it on with the kids,” she said, poking the handle back in her bag.

I don't want to fall out with the family, but I think Traffic Services have got a point. There is plenty of evidence that young people think, and I am not aware of any research that young drivers are an exception. Young people conceivably employ thought in choosing whether to protest against a war or join the army. Some may use thought in the course of their research into the relationship between prime numbers and the Neanderthal genome. Others weigh up the economics of having a baby at 15, while yet others discourse on whether Mumford and sons are arrivistes, and whether their bumbling onto the stage at summer festivals to coincide with their surprise hit single, is not quite as haphazard is it appears. ("Dad," I hear the chorus. "Stop trying to be Down With The Kids." I'm not, I retort. I heard about them on Radio 4. So there.)

The strongest evidence that young people think, however, is Facebook: young people spend a great deal of time thinking about each other, about themselves, and about hair products.

I suspect that Peter Jenner, the vicar up in Mellor, might agree with Traffic Services. Peter says that he hopes his parish is a place for “seekers” at least as much as for “finders”. We think, we seek, we hope.

If Peter is right, perhaps Marple is a bit different from, say, Alderley Edge, whose portals sport following the message:

Children please drive slowly

This, one feels, is addressed to under-aged footballers who have already found themselves in possession of everything that they ever wanted, and have therefore already wrapped their first Lamborghinis around my Zimmer frame.

* * *

Back in Marple, and a little further along Stockport Road, Traffic Services – or whoever – exhorts us as follows:

That's right:

Don't become a Statistic

One thing we are never short of is a statistic. 56,817 drivers and riders aged 30 to 39 were involved in recorded UK road collisions in 2008, nearly as many as the 58,846 under-24s. (That's approximate: Mrs M wasn't available to check the figure-work.) What is more, the alcohol level in the blood of thirty-something drivers involved in crashes is much more likely to be over the legal limit (39%), than that of 16-19 year-olds (23%).

Anyway, all I was thinking was that young drivers might like to know this too, before they are crashed into by a drunken git in a bloody Range Rover.

M3 has just come back from an extended Graffiti workshop at our local Specialist Youth-Wise Communication College. I have suggested that he add a rider (so to speak) to the road sign.

Young drivers THINK
Thirty-somethings DRINK

It was just a thought.

* * *


MAC our dear goldfish Freddie Mac, on 7th July at Mandallay, of a bloated bladder, bravely borne.  He leaves his beloved Fannie Mae, and their young friend from Brabyns Fair, John. Freddie is re-united with the Dreamers on high.  Donations to Lehman Brothers. No weed please.

HADDOCK Fannie Mae to Johnny on 7th July, after a long engagement.  The Bride’s Maids wore salmon, and the periwinkle bouquet was caught by Ann Chovy. Fannie and Johnny plan to honeymoon in Wales, before returning to found a Cordon Bleu School in Mandallay.

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