Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I forget


I forget what I’ve forgotten.


I just realised that I must have forgotten so much stuff in the last fifty-odd years, I simply can’t remember what I’ve forgotten.  Well, yeah.  Obviously.  The point is, I can usually remember that I’ve read a book or seen a fillum, but I know that I cannot remember the plot or the story or the characters or the ending or the star or the author or the director.  In this case, I can remember that I’ve forgotten, if you see what I mean.  However, just this morning, I realised that I am forgetting what I’ve forgotten.  My computer reminded me that two years ago I posted a comment about a Radiohead video.  Essentially, the comment stated that I had never seen the video before, albeit that it was made for one of my favourite songs by the band.  I watched the video again this morning and found that it was not familiar in any way.  Strange, because I think I would describe it as particularly memorable.  I now know that I watched it two years ago, because my PC just told me, but if you had asked me yesterday whether I had seen the video before, I would have denied all knowledge.

This bothers me, but it also reassures me.

I have been telling myself to pick up the writing once more, not least because I want my children to be able to find out about what used to make me tick (and laugh, groan, cry, shout, smile, and all the rest of it), and… oh, crap!  I got distracted by a baby.  I cannot remember what I was about to write.

On that note, I’ll bid farewell, but will be back shortly.  Unless… well, you can guess the rest.

Oh!  That video?  Yes.  This one.





“To act dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage.”

Guess what.  Yeah, the Tour is about to begin.  (Actually, I got sidetracked.  It began yesterday.)  Not just any old Tour, The Tour.  That’s the next three weeks taken care of for me.  But, as sure as eggs is eggs, that also means there will be stories and talk of cheating.  More specifically, drugs.  Riders cheating by using banned substances.  Indeed, just a couple of days ago, news came of a rider testing positive for using EPO.  EPO, for Christ’s sake!  It’s as if we’ve slipped through a time tunnel.  Surely, nobody’s using EPO these days?  Let’s wait for the B sample.

Just to be clear, before I head off on this gentle ramble, I do not condone cheating in any way.  In cricketing terms, I was always proud to be a ‘walker’.  If I ever nicked the ball to the keeper, I knew I’d nicked the ball to the keeper, so I was out.  I walked.  If I had stood my ground and waited for the umpire to make a bad decision, and then I gone on to score a ton, I would never have been comfortable with that.  I was brought up to play hard, but play fair.

Pro cycling is still synonymous with drug cheats.  That’s a given.  My beef is that cycling is always, always, held up as the pre-eminent sport of the professional cheat.  My view is this is as unfair as it is mystifying.  I’m going to question this position by specific reference to football.  Yes, I know that there is history in athletics, in rugby, in tennis and pretty much every other sport, but I have a particular problem with the way we look at cheating.  Football, I think, is the best means of illustrating my case.

Take two specific footballing staples.  Diving in the penalty box and/or feigning injury.  There are countless examples of this kind of thing, but I’ve chosen a particular favourite:

Here’s the point.  Call it what you like, but this is blatant cheating.  Footballers are exceptionally skilled at “act[ing] dishonestly or unfairly to gain an advantage”, but football is never held up as a hotbed of cheating.  It’s often witnessed by thousands of spectators who have just paid the best part of a day’s wages to go and watch these preening prima donnas, but that’s okay, it’s all part of the game.  It’s often televised and seen by millions across the globe, often repeated ad infinitum in super slow-motion, but it’s okay, the referees will ensure fair play.  Still there’s no outrage, but put these blokes in lycra and stick ’em on a bike and they’d be pilloried until the cows come home.  How is it that cheating is okay if it’s there for all to see, but it’s not okay if it’s done in the privacy of a hotel room?  Footballers can influence the outcome of their matches by contriving to have a key member of the opposition booked and/or sent off, or by ‘going to ground’ in the penalty area.  Such influence could result in reaching a cup final, or a place in Europe next season, or promotion to the next league.  These are all very real possible outcomes.  They cheat because there is money at stake.  Often big money.

Cycling is essentially free to watch.  Go stand at the side of the road and watch a bunch of skinny fellas flash past in an instant, or watch it on ITV4.  It costs me nothing to watch cycling.  Why would I want to pay forty quid or more to go and watch ninety minutes of institutionalised cheating at any Premier League match?  Football is our (Britain’s) national sport, I think, so, it is reasonable to conclude that we are happy to turn a blind eye to cheating, week in and week out.  We are happy to pay to watch overpaid clowns cheating before our very eyes.  I simply don’t understand why there are different levels of cheating in the collective sports fans’ mindset.

I could go on about how the likes of Rooney or Beckham are, or have been, paid millions to play ninety, perhaps one hundred and eighty minutes of football in a week.  There are undoubtedly some well paid cyclists in the pro peloton, but your average Joe Domestique will be on a pretty modest wage by footballing standards.  The only common factor is that they are just doing what they do to make a living.  This brings me to the next issue.

I think it was Jacques Anquetil, a five-time winner of Le Tour, who spoke about cyclists making a living and maximising their earnings.  Compare this to, say, a city trader or a teacher.  A teacher is having a bad day and takes a few pills to relieve a headache.  There is no problem with that, surely?  The city trader is having an exceptional day and has made millions for his firm, who will undoubtedly give him a hefty bonus.  Some of that bonus will be spent on some more ‘chemical assistance’.  How else do you think said trader was so sharp in his dealings?  Even more of that bonus will go towards a night out watching the latest Hollywood Blockbuster, then the current chart-topper’s gig at Wembley Stadium before a more sedate trip to the National Gallery to catch the hit touring exhibition.  Robert Downey Jr, Keith Richards, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec.  They all have a history of drug abuse.  Nobody seems too bothered.  Arguably, their drug use improved their art, their creativity, their ability to get through a performance.  Whatever.  Artificial enhancement to boost their earning potential.

It’s all a bit mad.  We are bizarrely inconsistent in the way we perceive this particular human weakness.

Who fancies a song about cycling?  Yes, please.



It’s all about the Tone


This Tone?

Don’t be ridiculous.  A slice of late 8os hip-hop (or is it rap?) has no place here, although I admit it retains a certain je ne sais quoi.

No, I’m referring to the much-maligned tones in the Chinese language.  I say maligned.  I mean misunderstood, or misheard, or mispronounced.  It’s a minefield out there.

Anyway, I’m guessing that pretty much any foreigner who has studied Chinese lately will be familiar with this irritating little ditty.

Essentially, this revolves around the common problem of sleep and dumplings.

Sleep. 睡 (shuìjiào)

Dumplings. 水餃 (shuǐjiǎo)
[edit: the accents should be over the i and the a – can’t figure out how to get it to display it like that…?!]

I (now) understand the difference (4th tone and 3rd tone, respectively), but can I hear the difference?  Can I fu…

…nnily enough, no.  (Okay, I won’t use that again.)

On a more serious note, tone is rather important in English.  It can be very difficult to pick up on the intended tone of a Tweet or other written communication, and this is undoubtedly the root cause of much misunderstanding.  Sarcasm, among many other elements of language, has a heavy reliance on tone.  I’m looking forward to the day I am proficient enough in Chinese to *cough* compliment some of the more idiotic clowns in cars and on scooters.  “Hey! Nice use of the indicator, Coco!”

Back to sleep and dumplings.  I think this is why I feel more comfortable focusing my efforts on learning to read and write.

I think (我得, wǒ juédé) 睡 and 水餃 have nothing in common, so I needn’t fret too much about misreading and misunderstanding.
[Edit: as above, accent displaying in an odd way – should be over the o]

Oh crap!  The red characters, 我得 and 睡are written exactly the same way and have completely different sounds, tones and meanings.

Yeah!  Thanks a lot ancient Chinese scholars, or whoever it was who came up with this.  Learning Chinese is going to be so easy.





Fuckwits – accelerate at a red light, then slam on the brakes.

Fuckwits – undertake you 50 metres from a red light (see above).

Fuckwits – overtake you as you are crossing an intersection (crossroads).

Fuckwits – wear masks while their 2-stroke motors belch oily blue smoke.

Fuckwits – wear helmets while their children ride pillion, helmetless.

Fuckwits – park on a red line on a corner on a pedestrian crossing by a fire hydrant.

Fuckwits – carry on as normal as an ambulance approaches, lights and sirens on full.

Fuckwits – start scooters before reversing out of their parking space.

Fuckwits – pass you with inches to spare before braking and turning in front of you (or stopping).

Fuckwits – ride at you on the wrong side of the road.

Fuckwits – attend one of the best universities in the land but still cannot understand where to walk/ride (see above).

Fuckwits – turn out of a side road with nary a glance to see what’s coming.

Fuckwits – keep on colliding with each other (see above).

Fuckwit – A person who is not only lacking in clue but is apparently unable or unwilling to acquire clue even when handed it on a plate in generous portions.

I despair.

Happy Christmas.


Half a Year of Tunes


Over on my other blog, I’m six months into the project, taking 18th December as the half way mark.  In case you want to take a look, but can’t face wading through 184 entries, here they are for your perusal.  You should hopefully find something you like.  (Hmm, sorry, the formatting is a bit crap.)

18-Jun 1 Peter Gabriel Sledgehammer
19-Jun 2 Mansun Six
20-Jun 3 T Rex Born to Boogie
21-Jun 4 Cake The Distance
22-Jun 5 Poliça Dark Star
23-Jun 6 Arctic Monkeys Fake Tales of San Francisco
24-Jun 7 Heaven 17 Crushed by the Wheels of Industry
25-Jun 8 Chic Le Freak
26-Jun 9 XTC Making Plans for Nigel
27-Jun 10 Plank! La Luna
28-Jun 11 Public Service Broadcasting Spitfire
29-Jun 12 Simon and Garfunkel Keep the Customer Satisfied
30-Jun 13 Paul McCartney Junk
01-Jul 14 Dreadzone Little Britain
02-Jul 15 Metallica Enter Sandman
03-Jul 16 The Cult She Sells Sanctuary
04-Jul 17 Neil Young Only Love Will Break Your Heart
05-Jul 18 Earth Wind and Fire Fantasy
06-Jul 19 Everything Everything Suffragette Suffragette
07-Jul 20 Duran Duran Planet Earth
08-Jul 21 Delgados American Trilogy
09-Jul 22 Eric Clapton Cocaine
10-Jul 23 Focus Hocus Pocus
11-Jul 24 The Jam English Rose
12-Jul 25 Wham! Everything She Wants
13-Jul 26 Colorblind James Experience Considering a Move to Memphis
14-Jul 27 Chemical Brothers Setting Sun
15-Jul 28 Blur This is a Low
16-Jul 29 Low Just Like Christmas
17-Jul 30 Dr Feelgood Roxette
18-Jul 31 The Police Roxanne
19-Jul 32 Laura Marling Sophia
20-Jul 33 Genesis Firth of Fifth
21-Jul 34 James Blake Retrograde
22-Jul 35 Half Man Half Biscuit Joy Division Oven Gloves
23-Jul 36 Death In Vegas Aisha
24-Jul 37 The Smiths There is a Light That Never Goes Out
25-Jul 38 Stone Roses Fool’s Gold
26-Jul 39 Haircut 100 Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
27-Jul 40 Edwyn Collins Girl Like You
28-Jul 41 Aztec Camera Oblivious
29-Jul 42 Radiohead Street Spirit (Fade Out)
30-Jul 43 Talking Heads Same as it Ever Was
31-Jul 44 Rick James Super Freak
01-Aug 45 Madness Baggy Trousers
02-Aug 46 The Jackson Sisters I Believe in Miracles
03-Aug 47 Michael Jackson Working Day and Night
04-Aug 48 Kylie Spinning Around
05-Aug 49 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five The Message
06-Aug 50 Elastica Waking Up
07-Aug 51 B52s Love Shack
08-Aug 52 Leftfield Lydon Open Up
09-Aug 53 The Jam Down in the Tube Station at Midnight
10-Aug 54 Television Marquee Moon
11-Aug 55 Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy Television, the Drug of the Nation
12-Aug 56 Supertramp Dreamer
13-Aug 57 Santana Smooth
14-Aug 58 Queens of the Stoneage No one Knows
15-Aug 59 Deep Purple Highway Star
16-Aug 60 The Wedding Present Interstate 5
17-Aug 61 Stone Roots Tease
18-Aug 62 King Trigger The River
19-Aug 63 The Members The Sound of the Suburbs
20-Aug 64 The Who You Better You Bet
21-Aug 65 The Isley Brothers Summer Breeze
22-Aug 66 Outkast Hey Ya
23-Aug 67 Buzzcocks Lipstick
24-Aug 68 Magazine Shot by Both Sides
25-Aug 69 Thin Lizzy Don’t Believe a Word
26-Aug 70 Belle and Sebastian The Boy with the Arab Strap
27-Aug 71 Beth Orton She Cries Your Name
28-Aug 72 Tenpole Tudor Swords of a Thousand Men
29-Aug 73 The Beatles Tomorrow Never Knows
30-Aug 74 Bis Eurodisco
31-Aug 75 Tom Robinson War Baby
01-Sep 76 The Blue Nile Tinseltown in the Rain
02-Sep 77 Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World
03-Sep 78 9 Below Zero Don’t Point Your Finger at the Guitar Man
04-Sep 79 Graham Coxon Freakin’ Out
05-Sep 80 Radiohead Just
06-Sep 81 Sufjan Stevens Chicago
07-Sep 82 The Clash This is Radio Clash
08-Sep 83 The Hives Hate to Say I Told You So
09-Sep 84 Badly Drawn Boy Once Around the Block
10-Sep 85 Monaco What Do You Want From Me?
11-Sep 86 The Rolling Stones Doom and Gloom
12-Sep 87 Ash Shining Light
13-Sep 88 Joan Armatrading Love and Affection
14-Sep 89 Tame Impala Elephant
15-Sep 90 Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit
16-Sep 91 Joey Negro and Taka Boom Saturday
17-Sep 92 David Bowie Oh You Pretty Things
18-Sep 93 Wishbone Ash Blowin’ Free
19-Sep 94 Big Country Fields of Fire
20-Sep 95 The Skids Into the Valley
21-Sep 96 Unknown Mortal Orchestra Sleep and Swim (Like a Shark)
22-Sep 97 Midlake Roscoe
23-Sep 98 The White Stripes Seven Nation Army
24-Sep 99 Franz Ferdinand Take Me Out
25-Sep 100 Peter Gabriel Biko
26-Sep 101 Echobelly Dark Therapy
27-Sep 102 Interpol Evil
28-Sep 103 PJ Harvey Good Fortune
29-Sep 104 The Farm All Together Now
30-Sep 105 Grandaddy He’s Simple, He’s Dumb, He’s the Pilot
01-Oct 106 Jane’s Addiction Just Because
02-Oct 107 Tubeway Army Are Friends Electric?
03-Oct 108 Robert Wyatt Shipbuilding
04-Oct 109 Melanie Ruby Tuesday
05-Oct 110 Blondie Rapture
06-Oct 111 Mercury Rev Goddess on a Hiway
07-Oct 112 The Brothers Johnson Stomp!
08-Oct 113 Barber Adagio for Strings
09-Oct 114 Elvis Presley Teddy Bear
10-Oct 115 Elvis Costello and the Attractions I Don’t Want to go to Chelsea
11-Oct 116 Black Sabbath Paranoid
12-Oct 117 Weezer Hash Pipe
13-Oct 118 Kula Shaker Hey Dude
14-Oct 119 The Fall F-olding Money
15-Oct 120 Inspiral Carpets I Want You
16-Oct 121 The Shirehorses Horny
17-Oct 122 Japan Visions of China
18-Oct 123 Siouxsie and the Banshees Spellbound
19-Oct 124 Cozy Powell Dance with the Devil
20-Oct 125 Phil Collins In the Air Tonight
21-Oct 126 Pavement Shady Lane
22-Oct 127 Bjork Venus as a Boy
23-Oct 128 Bennet Mum’s Gone to Iceland
24-Oct 129 Simon and Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water
25-Oct 130 The Tom Robinson Band Power in the Darkness
26-Oct 131 The Human League Hard Times
27-Oct 132 The Flaming Lips Race for the Prize
28-Oct 133 Nat King Cole Unforgettable
29-Oct 134 Public Image Ltd Public Image
30-Oct 135 The Cure A Forest
31-Oct 136 Roxy Music Editions of You
01-Nov 137 Faithless Insomnia
02-Nov 138 Fun Lovin’ Criminals Scooby Snacks
03-Nov 139 Status Quo Down Down
04-Nov 140 Athlete Wires
05-Nov 141 The Fall Totally Wired
06-Nov 142 The Monkees Pleasant Valley Sunday
07-Nov 143 Lynryd Skynyrd Free Bird
08-Nov 144 Sparks This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us
09-Nov 145 Mansun Wide Open Space
10-Nov 146 Gary Clail Human Nature
11-Nov 147 Boomtown Rats Mary of the 4th Form
12-Nov 148 Genesis Fly on a Windshield/Broadway Melody of 1974
13-Nov 149 Idlewild When I Argue I See Shapes
14-Nov 150 Pink Floyd Wish You Were Here
15-Nov 151 Squeeze Take Me I’m Yours
16-Nov 152 Dire Straits Sultans of Swing
17-Nov 153 The Rapture House of Jealous Lovers
18-Nov 154 Coldplay Yellow
19-Nov 155 X-Ray Spex Germ Free Adolescents
20-Nov 156 Teenage Fanclub Sparky’s Dream
21-Nov 157 Paul Weller Sunflower
22-Nov 158 The Bee Gees Stayin’ Alive
23-Nov 159 Sex Pistols Holidays in the Sun
24-Nov 160 Echo and the Bunnymen The Killing Moon
25-Nov 161 Wah! The Story of the Blues
26-Nov 162 The Teardrop Explodes Reward
27-Nov 163 Buzzcocks What do I Get
28-Nov 164 Emerson Lake and Palmer Fanfare for the Common Man
29-Nov 165 Jocelyn Brown Somebody Else’s Guy
30-Nov 166 Stereolab French Disko
01-Dec 167 Roni Size/Reprazent Brown Paper Bag
02-Dec 168 Altered Images Don’t Talk to Me About Love
03-Dec 169 AC/DC Whole Lotta Rosie
04-Dec 170 Fleetwood Mac The Chain
05-Dec 171 Sister Sledge He’s the Greatest Dancer
06-Dec 172 Ian Dury Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick
07-Dec 173 Modest Mouse Float On
08-Dec 174 Suede The Beautiful Ones
09-Dec 175 Elastica Connection
10-Dec 176 The Vapors Turning Japanese
11-Dec 177 Led Zeppelin Whole Lotta Love
12-Dec 178 Brian Eno and David Byrne Strange Overtones
13-Dec 179 The Stranglers Peaches
14-Dec 180 Talking Heads Psycho Killer
15-Dec 181 Genesis Squonk
16-Dec 182 Super Furry Animals (Drawing) Rings Around the World
17-Dec 183 Funkadelic One Nation Under a Groove
18-Dec 184 Greg Lake I Believe in Father Christmas

Safety First


A quick one today.

Next door to where we live they are building a 24 storey apartment block.  There will be three basement levels so they are still digging a massive hole.  On the gate there are a few signs, one of which I photographed this morning (sorry, it’s a bit small – click for a larger version):



Admirable.  Well done that construction company (Cathay something or other).  There’s another sign nearby telling workers to wear a hard hat before entering the site.  Fair enough.  I wonder if there’s an equivalent of RoSPA out here?

The problem is, it all falls apart when the workers (and management?) simply ignore the advice.  Not long ago, and I kid you not, workers from the construction site were sat on the roadside drinking Heineken at 9.30am.  I wasn’t surprised; a few months before I had seen workers on the beer, and one on the Vodka, at the building site adjacent to the park where I take my son to play.  Heavy machinery, working at height, concrete and steel.  What could possibly go wrong?

There’s obviously a gag in here somewhere about Health and Safety Gone Mad, but it doesn’t really seem appropriate.  The proper time to prevent an accident is before it happens.  Brilliant.


Another New Year – More New Tunes


I’m still working on this, in addition to my sister-project here: so here’s an update on the stuff that’s caught my ear this year.

Last year’s offerings were pretty limited.  I guess there just weren’t that many releases that really struck a chord.  Here’s hoping 2014 will surprise and delight.

I’ll begin with this, simply because it was just on the radio and it prompted me to pull out the proverbial finger.  Where else have you heard brass used like this?

Another one I’ve been hearing a lot lately, from a band about which I have no knowledge.  The Bee Gees influence is there, for sure, but that’s not a bad thing.

I got tipped-off about this one by my nephew a month or so ago.  Didn’t immediately grab me, but after a couple of listens… well, give it a try and see what you think.

One more to finish this opening salvo, and it’s another band (with a dodgy name) which is new to me.  Lovely little guitar twiddle running through this.

A couple to add, before I forget.

Elbow, back with some new material.  I think I like this for its use of the phrase “oh, my giddy aunt…!”

Mr Albarn.  You never quite know what you are going to get, and the little string motif running through here is so un-rock’n’roll.  Nice video, too.

Here’s one that takes a while, but well worth the wait.  Bonkers video, too.

A little gem which could have come from years ago:

Albarn again.  Beautiful:

The fabulous Mr Johnny Marr:

The incomparable Jack White.  Is there no end to this man’s talent?:

A new band brought to my attention by the marvellous Marc Riley on that there BBC 6Music:

Lovely pop tune; cracking video (look closely):

Eno doing something different, again.  This time with that Carl Hyde fella out of off of Underworld:

This one is growing on me, especially after hearing the band in session on Marc Riley’s show:

Dreadful band name. Great tune:

Really love this one.  No idea about the artist, but great stuff:

A lovely little pop tune, not unlike Blur or Buzzcocks:

Perhaps the nicest ‘tune’ of the year but the worst title?  A real grower:

The Wave Pictures.  Nice bit of harmonica, a bass solo, and some Billy Childish on the writing credits.  Has to be good:

Slightly disturbing, but give it a chance and check the lyrics. Marvelous:

There’s Simply Not Enough Room


Here’s a picture of a fairly typical road around here.  At least, it’s typical of the roads outside of the city.  You’ll note that it’s wide and it’s empty.  Surprisingly empty!  Perhaps that’s what you are thinking, but this is effectively out in the sticks and there really isn’t a high volume of traffic, which is why we choose to cycle out on such roads, even after dark.  It’s flat, it’s fast (wind permitting) and the road surface is generally pretty good.  There are a few dogs lurking here and there, but most don’t bat an eyelid as we pass.


So far so good.  I’m not complaining.

However, and it’s a rather specific however… Why is it that so many scooter riders want to pass within a few inches of my left elbow?  Look at the road layout: there are two lanes for cars, vans and lorries, and two lanes for scooters and bicycles, and there’s even a generous shoulder on the right.  Bear in mind that this is looking north.  It’s the same heading south on the other side of the central reservation.  There is plenty of room.  Ooodles of room, in fact.

Dear Scooter Riders

Why, when you have all that road to play with, do you need to pass me within a matter of inches of my left elbow?  What exactly are you thinking when you see all that empty road and a cyclist ahead?  I’m genuinely curious.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Lots of love


In case you think I’m deranged, here’s another example.


This is a slightly busier road, and the eagle-eyed among you will note that, in addition to the car and scooter lanes, there’s even a cycle lane to the right.  You’ll also note that it’s being used by scooterists.  Perhaps they should be allowed some slack.  Why?  Well, because dozens of impatient drivers will generally be using the scooter lanes because they simply have to be undertaking all those slower vehicles using the correct lanes to ensure that they get to the next red light just a few seconds sooner.  What is the point of all that paint, when absolutely nobody gives a flying fook about lane discipline?  Seriously, highway authorities if you’re reading this, what exactly is the point?

Here’s a lucky chap:

It’s a Scandal


Recently, there have been scandals about contaminated cooking oil in Taiwan.  The people of this country seem to have been really excited about this.  I’m guessing here, but I’d be willing to bet huge sums of money that the actual damage caused to the health of the people of Taiwan by this dodgy oil has been negligible compared to the damage being done to their lungs by filthy air.

Now, just imagine for a moment that some boffin at NCKU measured the exhaust emissions from a scooter ‘reversing’ out of a parking space (I wrote about the phenomenon the other day here: http://fiftyyearsandcounting.wordpress. … n-reverse/ ) and then calculated the amount of such additional and entirely unnecessary emissions for a day/month/year. Imagine this then made the news as a scandal because it could be affecting everyone’s health, (with relevant comparisons to the recent oil crisis). This is the kind of joined-up thinking that is lacking, as far as I can see. Get this kind of information out there to start a shift in the mindset of Joe Public. I’d be willing to bet large sums of money (again) that not one of these scooter riders who reverses with the motor running has given the slightest thought to such a minor action. Why would they? Put it to them as a national scandal and they might, just might, begin to make some progress towards thinking about change for the better.

Okay, it’s a pretty odd example, but it is precisely the kind of thing that makes no sense. Absolutely none.

In a similar vein, I often wonder about the almost pathological reliance on the scooter and the corresponding failure (of vast swathes of the population) to walk or cycle anywhere.  Ever.  Allow me to elaborate.  Our neighbour takes her daughter to some kind of class after dinner every evening.  They go on the scooter, wrapped in face masks, of course.  Mum and daughter leave together and mum is back within approximately two minutes, so I figure they go about one block away at most.  They could walk it within five minutes each way, I reckon.  Similarly, my in-laws head out every morning to buy breakfast.  I can’t be sure, but as far as I can tell they go approximately a quarter of a mile to the market.  Again, it would take them about five minutes to walk there.  Let’s face it, it’s entirely unlikely that these are the only two cases of such minor scooter journeys on the island.  Indeed, I’d suggest that this is happening in every town and city on a colossal scale.  Just imagine the difference in the air quality if such journeys were eradicated and people took to their feet or used a bicycle rather than burning more fuel.

Where are the movers and shakers of Taiwan brainstorming this kind of thing and mobilising some kind of publicity campaign? Think of the long-term savings to the health service. Think of the children. For God’s sake, think of the children!

I’ll end with another film clip.  Even by Taiwanese standards, this one takes some believing:


Thinking ahead


Yesterday was heads.  Today, I’m curious about the concept of thinking ahead.  It’s a fundamental skill which seems to be missing from the armoury of so many drivers out here.  Let me describe an incident I witnessed a couple of weeks ago.  Nothing too serious, but a perfect example of what I find so interesting.

I am driving along a typical city centre road behind one other vehicle.  It’s a two lane road – i.e. each side has two lanes – and I’m in the offside lane, with the car in front of me in the nearside lane.  Unusually, there is nothing else around of any consequence.  Nobody up my chuff, no scooters weaving in and out, but up ahead there’s a traffic cone in the middle of the nearside lane.  I see it and ease off so that the car ahead can move into the offside lane, which it does.  So far, so good.  Why was the cone there, you’re thinking?  Why indeed.  Most probably because not more than 30 metres ahead, a mixer is parked in the road off-loading its concrete.  That would be a concrete mixer; a large thing with a big barrel-like container spinning round on the back, with a tube deployed to the side to dispense the load.  What did the car ahead of me do next but move back into the outside lane before slamming on the brakes and then moving back into the clear lane.

Dear Car Driver

The other day when you saw the cone and moved over in front of me, what exactly were you thinking as you then moved back into the nearside lane, closing rapidly on a stationary concrete mixer which was clearly delivering its load?

While I think of it, perhaps you could also explain what is going on between your ears when you are approaching a traffic light which you can clearly see turn from green to red.  What exactly are you thinking as you continue to accelerate towards the red light and all that stationary traffic?

I am interested in learning about these particular thought processes, so a full explanation would be really helpful.

Many thanks.


For the visual today, I have another gem for you.  It kind of fits rather well with today’s theme, too.

In case it isn’t clear, the cars on the right should not be in that lane; they are simply trying to cut in front of the lorry that is waiting to turn right at the lights at the end of the road, probably to save themselves a few seconds while delaying the lorry in the process.  More diesel pollution, but that’s okay, isn’t it?  Time is money.