Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Second place will do for me - 
at least I’ll get home safely

FORMULA One driver Lewis Hamilton’s switch from McLaren to Mercedes is under threat after scouts for the German giant were spotted checking out drivers at Weymouth traffic lights.

The town’s new traffic system has dramatically changed driving habits and produced a ruthless breed of motorist who is fine tuning their starting skills to Grand Prix standards in a bid to ensure they are first away from the lights to beat queues.

This in itself has been laughable in recent months since, even if they are quicker than every other waiting driver, their speed only ensures they are first to get to the next traffic light queue!

To watch them go at it is an object lesson in an accident waiting to happen.
Light approaches often have two lanes, both lanes merging into one beyond the junction.

Those who devised the system claim it speeds up traffic clearance and operates smoothly with both flows of traffic dovetailing into each other.

That’s true in a perfect world, but there are some very imperfect drivers out there whose brutal determination to get the jump on everybody else is starting to create a real traffic threat.

Only the other day a speed merchant in the outside lane learned that his days are numbered after the driver in the inside lane got away at the same speed he did when the lights turned to green.

They both shot across the junction side by side and arrived at the bottleneck on the other side with neither prepared to give way.

The predictable result was a flare of brake lights, a blare of horns and a display of mutual appreciation in the time honoured fashion by the raising of middle fingers.

All this is clearly rich pickings for Mercedes who must be contemplating dumping Hamilton in favour of some Weymouth warrior seeking speed at any cost. For the rest of us I’m afraid a more sedate second place beckons but at least we’ll get home safely.

Step away from the coffee pot!

YOU never realise just how much danger you could be in from an ordinary everyday action - until you get thirsty and order a coffee!

Perhaps you’re with a friend and you’re chatting while the cafetiere steeps, unaware that you could be risking life and limb.

But take a closer look at your coffee and incredibly you may see a set of instructions on how to prepare and drink it!

Ye Gods! Aren’t our lives controlled enough as it is? But, yes, there are now guidelines on what you need to do to enjoy a cup of coffee in safety, some of which seem to actually be written on cafetieres.

For instance, drinkers should watch out because coffee can be hot! And never take your eyes off the plunger, an apparently wilful mechanism which seizes every opportunity to attack the drinker.

There are more mind-numbing observations on safety but here’s one they’ve forgotten – serious hand burns caused by the coffee drinker getting distracted by reading a load of unnecessary warnings while trying to pour their cup of coffee.

So remember to be on your guard against the dangers of coffee not least because you might break a rib laughing so much at the ludicrous descent into farce that our ordinary lives increasingly seem to be taking.

Now, I must break off here to write a cheque. Can’t afford to let my personal injury insurance lapse for enjoying my cocoa tonight.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder

THIS column has debated the question of what is art before, but the recent death of Weymouth artist Trevor Lawrence and the vandalising of a painting at the Tate Modern are keeping the pot simmering.

Lawrence was in his prime and could command several thousand pounds for his top works displaying colourful impressions of life in tenement-style buildings, a number of his paintings being snapped up by Hollywood legends such as Jack Palance.

By contrast, the last work by the late contemporary artist Mark Rothko – whose Black and Maroon painting was the one vandalised at the Tate – fetched a mind-boggling £53.8 million.

I believe that art is personal and if someone wants to pay a king’s ransom for a painting of a blurred window then that is up to them, but it’s not for me even if I had £53.8 million, which I don’t.

On the other hand, Lawrence’s silhouette-like works will also not be everyone’s cup of tea but at least they challenge the eye.

Neither is likely to please purists of the Constable school of art, so we’re back once again to a personal interpretation of the value of individual works.

Believe it or not, what few paintings I have embrace all three styles. I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder, whatever strikes a chord.

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