Thinking aloud, should it be, allowed?

Was it better years ago, before climate change?

Ford Popular, like the horse, ideal in the snowFord Popular, like the horse, ideal in the snow
Winter, a disaster for some but an opportunity for others? So here we are, not even the New Year yet but the weather has brought us down. In countries with a tradition of very low temperatures there is the concept of 'cabin fever'. This affects people who stay inside from the fall of the first snow until spring and, as a result of their self imposed imprisonment, they go a bit mad. Oh dear I hear you say! Remembering that 'stay inside' is the advice of the 'authorities', of all stripes, who don't wish you to experience their ineptitude first hand. In an age of air travel a larger than ever number of UK residents have had experience of winter in countries where a lot of snow is to be expected. I have watched snow blowers at a small rural airport in Canada clear a runway in a blizzard so a mid-sized Boeing jet could take off. It was -20C and just minutes after take off the runway was again covered. The journey to and from the airport was done in a small Toyota with snow tyres and was both safe and done at a reasonable speed. By contrast we have all seen the pictures of life in the UK, even gritting lorries have gone into ditches; from the top to the bottom of the great pyramid of public servants it seems hard to find anyone able to do it right. Years ago it was deemed reasonable to suggest we have in the UK "the wrong kind of snow". Increasingly it looks as if we have, as a nation, the wrong sort of attitude and the wrong sort of public servant too.

Take the pearls of wisdom from the Institute of Advanced Motorists chief examiner, Mr Peter Rodger, who said -

"With extremes of cold weather being unusual here, and the UK government showing no signs of making winter tyres compulsory".......

On the one hand it's a pity the nanny state lives on despite sub-zero temperatures, on the other it gives some of us a chance to make fools of ourselves. And no I don't mean we can't manage three point turns. For, Mr goody-two-shoes Rodger, perhaps these tyres are not compulsory here in the UK because this sort of weather is unusual. As someone who cycled to work during the winter of 1963, which was a bit like this winter, I watched the cars of the period cope in a way that seems not to be the case now. Still primitive times eh? No, over-bearing bossy types who think that statist intervention is the only way to go.Mr Rodger may be an 'advanced' motorist but his powers of reasoning, like the leader or spokesman of anything these days, is somewhat retarded.

It's the word 'advanced' that both amuses and annoys. For in fact the modern car is hopeless in these wintry conditions, back in the 1960s the Ford Popular was, by contrast, ideal. It was a low power engine but had surprising torque, allied to large diameter narrow wheels it found grip and made it up hills that defeat fat tyred modern cars with high power. It also had a starting handle so if the battery did run down then it was possible to get it going again. You could even take the spark plugs out put it in gear and use the starting handle to pull it out of snow drifts. It was the same with motorcycles, a BSA Bantam had a low saddle height and soft power. So, first gear, both feet flat down on the road and off you went. About 12mph was possible, even in deep snow, and you could go anywhere. On the very steep hills you walked alongside, with the engine at tick-over the motorcycle pulled itself up. This is why the Post Office had thousands of red painted Bantams, there were unstoppable!
BSA Bantam BSA Bantam
And so to Boris Johnson. The Mayor of London has got himself a bit of publicity, and so thereby into hot water, by thinking aloud. Put simply, and roughly, his thoughts are along the lines of, 'global warming, climate change, are you sure'? I paraphrase of course, for who can exactly know another man is thinking? Also, when you are a highly paid Telegraph columnist you are supposed to pad it out a bit, use beautiful language, that sort of thing. This Johnson does, and well, he is worth his money. But let's see it from his point of view. Off you go each morning for County Hall, however North London to the Embankment on a bike is both chilly and dodgy these last weeks, as was last year about this time. And look at that chain! Red as a London bus with rust from the tons of salt put down so as to help Londoners get about. It makes one think, does it not? So credit where credit is due. Although both James Delingpole and Dr Richard North have given the Mayor a bit of a frosty reception for being a late-comer in the thinking aloud department, you had better read it for yourselves, there are links to North through Delingpole, see HERE.

And yet more thinking aloud. From David Millward we get the question -

Was the privatisation of our major airports a mistake?

This, I think, is the big idea of the winter so far. Winters come and go, so for that matter do summers and hose pipe bans, but that's another topic of discontent! Sticking with the winters, as it's only our fool politicians and associated nutters who think more wind farms will equal fewer harsh winters, we should seek other ways of solving the snow problem. As Millward says -

The United States is hardly a socialist country but many major airports are considered too important to be completely entrusted to the private sector. JFK, for example, is operated by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Logan Airport in Boston is operated by Massport, a body which is answerable to the governor of Massachusetts.

It makes you think yes?