Sunday, August 31, 2008

The End Of The Roundabout

I note with some sadness that the highway powers that be are removing the last of the roundabouts from the A1, a secondary (though still major) dual-carriageway running the length of the country, from London to Edinburgh. Most motorists will rejoice at this, but not the Elan pilot.

The only fun bit of driving from London to Newark on the A1 is the roundabouts. Without breaking any road traffic regulation, it is possible to enter a roundabout on such a road, drop in to second, fling the car through the effective chicane and boot the throttle.

This is great fun! You get to use all of the cornering and acceleration of these fantastic little sportscars and roar away up to 70mph then just knock it over from 3rd in to 5th gear and continue on your way, with a broad grin on your face.

Sadly, this era is coming to an end. My drives from London to my parents, in north Nottinghamshire, are about to become an even more tedious experience. Ho hum.

On a more positive note, a nice French chap, who took an active interest in the Lotus, turned out to be the organiser of several well known classic car racing events, including the prestigious Le Mans Classic. Even though he hasn't even met me yet, he has sorted me out with two VIP, all access, guest tickets to the 1,000km of Silverstone (AKA the 6 hours of Silverstone).

What a thoroughly decent fellow. Clearly a gentleman and a scholar. I'll take the Lotus up for him to have a play with, naturally. Looking forward to it.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Youth Crime: The Bane Of Modern Britain

I'm going way off topic today, but I need to get something off my chest. Liberals, stop reading now and come back next week when my mood has lightened.

I am deeply saddened to report that some idiots of questionable parentage kicked in every panel of the off side of the Fiat and caved in the right-front headlamp, before battering the guttering with rocks and pushing it against a wall. About £2,000-worth of damage, all told, in the name of "fun".

Essex Police have lifted fingerprints, but here lies the biggest problem: even if they catch someone for it, the aforementioned individual will certainly get little more than a tap on the wrists from a magistrate and a firm instruction not to do it again. Which he or she will dutifully ignore, next time they're out of their tiny minds on cheap cider and looking for something to smash to compensate for their total lack of prospects of becoming anything other than another drain on the British tax payer.

If it were up to me, the magistrate would be able to present the repair bill to the parents or guardians of the perpetrators and tell them to pay up or go to prison. Then they might actually take some responsibility for what junior is doing at 3am on a Saturday morning. (Coincidentally, this is already how they handle truancy, so I'm hoping someone in government will apply the same logical approach to youth crime, and soon!)

The point is when people under the age of 18 years old suffer no consequences for violent and anti-social behaviour, either in the home or in the courts, and have nothing better to do except spend their unemployment benefit on White Lightning and get blind drunk, what possible incentive is there for the disillusioned youth to behave? British law is unable to decide where responsibility for the actions of teenage criminals lies, and as a result it does not know how to deal with them.

With the system mired in apathy, the teenage criminal receives no punishment, nor do his or her parents, and they get the impression they can do what they like. Which, sadly, is the correct impression. Until they turn 18 and get sent to a proper prison, and then it's too late. By the time they come out of Pentonville Road, two years later, they'll be fully fledged adult criminals and those vital formative years during which their lives could've been turned around have been thrown away.

British society as a whole shrugs it's shoulders. Irresponsible parents are free to ignore the behaviour of their offspring. Education professionals are exasperated and powerless. Police are fed up with not getting convictions or, when they do, seeing sentences so light they are an insult to the victims and the police men and women who spent so much time bringing the perpetrators to justice. Judges and magistrates have no choice but to sentence according to British law, which is decided by... The Government.

The one group of people who seem to be saying it's not their fault either and they appear utterly impotent in the face of it - totally devoid of policies and ideas. Every week, in every newspaper, nationwide, the letters section is alive with commentary on this major social issue of modern Britain, but the present government are doing precisely nothing visible about it whatsoever. May I quote a line from a letter sent to The Metro, a free London paper, last week which nicely sums it up:

"Young people in this country have rights but no responsibilities."

So how do you make them responsible, if their parents won't do it and they no longer have to go to school? Well I think I know what the answer is. It's not a new idea, by any stretch of the imagination, but since we are getting a teenage stabbing in a British city almost every night of the week now, it's time someone took some drastic action:

Bring back National Service.

It's simple enough. If you are not in bona fide full-time education or gainfully employed between the ages of 16 and 21, you are joining the services whether you like it or not, be it military, or medical/charity alternatives for the conscientious. All of these organisations are down on recruits, you are unemployed, there many potential career paths for both men and women, front-line or back office, where they will have responsibilities, fair pay, role models and education.

I'd rather my tax paying pound is spent on supporting a teenager's career in the military or public services, than it being spent paying for a teenager's dole cheque, the police time required to investigate my vandalised property and the near-inevitable stay at Her Majesty's pleasure for the poor, stupid fool who is abandoned and shunned by our nation's society.

If the person who kicked seven bells out of my car the other weekend had been RAF ground-crew based up in Lincolnshire, he or she would've been safely tucked up in barracks by 11pm, having a well-earned sleep after a long, hard day of paid work. Not drinking cider in the streets and looking for something to break.