The Paparazzo Game redux

I decided to challenge Stense to a round of the Paparazzo Game on Monday. As you might remember, this involves me trying to take paparazzi-type photos of Stense, while Stense tries to avoid being photographed.

This time, I was sneaky. This time, like a true paparazzo, I lay in wait.

I'd had a tip-off that Stense would be taking the south-bound exit at junction 37 of the M6 at 10:00. So I hid out on a hillside overlooking the junction with my telephoto lens at the ready. Stense was being sneaky: she arrived eight seconds early. But I was ready for her:

Stense leaving J37 of the M6 at 09:59:52 on Monday.

Later, being even more sneaky than Stense, I managed to take a photo of the two of us together, without her even realising it. I used my special fish-eye dog-eye lens:

Stense and me in her dog's eye.

OK, I guess you win this round, Stense. But there's always next time. You have been warned!

Everything Hertz!

I passed my driving test when I was 17. In other words, 31 years ago. I don't know how far I've driven since then, but it must be half a million miles, give or take. Twenty times around the Earth, say. To the Moon and back.

And in all those hundreds of thousands of miles, not once—not on one single occasion—have I ever needed to consult the rev-counter on the dashboard of my car. Not once. Never.

True—touch wood—I've never had need of a seatbelt or airbag either. But seatbelts and airbags strike me as sensible precautions. But what the hell is a rev-counter for? For counting revs, obviously. But why on Earth would I need to know how many revs my car's engine is doing? To make sure I'm not over-revving, presumably. But I don't need a rev-counter to tell me when I'm over-revving, as I have a perfectly adequate pair of ears, and can tell when I'm over-revving because the car's engine starts screaming for mercy, and bits start flying off it. Even if my rev-counter were to tell me that the engine was revving within acceptable parameters—whatever the hell those might be—I would certainly ignore it if my ears told me otherwise. That's what ears are for. Well, that's one thing that ears are for. When it comes to flogging an engine—which I don't tend to do—I would far rather play it by ear than rely on some stupid dial telling me that I was doing 500,000,000 revs—or whatever.

The truth of the matter is that rev-counters are a total waste of space. The only reason they put them on car dashboards is because they can. Revs are something that can easily be measured, so measured they must be. If you were checking out a brand-new car in a showroom, and it didn't have a rev-counter on the dashboard, would you even notice? (Be honest, now, have you even noticed whether there's a rev-counter on your current car's dashboard?) And, if you happened to notice that the otherwise perfect new car in the showroom didn't have a rev-counter on its dashboard, would you kick up any kind of fuss about it with the salesperson? Or even try to use its inexplicable absence as some sort of haggling point? Of course you wouldn't: they would laugh in your face.

Diedrich Uhlhorn

Having a laugh: Diedrich Uhlhorn (R) and some apples.

Whoever it was who invented the rev-counter is laughing in our faces. Or they would be, were they not, presumably, long-dead by now. (Actually, I've just looked it up: it was the German engineer Dietrich Uhlhorn, and he died in Grevenbroich in 1837, so the joke was ultimately on him.)

Putting it quite simply, we don't need rev-counters on our dashboards. That space could be filled far more usefully. With yet another drinks-holder, say, or an ashtray—remember those?—or even a barometer. Anything, almost anything would be more useful on a car's dashboard than a sodding rev-counter.

Someone ought to do something.

Parking mad

BBC: Councils lobby government to raise parking fines

… The British Parking Association argues that the differential between the cost of parking all day and the penalty charge for not paying it must increase in order for there to be a deterrent.

For one point, children, can you think of any other way of increasing the difference between the cost of parking all day and the penalty charge for not paying, other than by increasing the penalty charge?

Spinning out of control

Although Blair's gone, New Labour spin still flourishes at the Department for Transport:

BBC: Hoon backs speed camera overhaul

Transport secretary Geoff Hoon has said traditional fixed-point speed cameras may be replaced by "fairer" versions which measure drivers' average speed.

He told the Sunday Times he understood why cameras which measure speed at just one point were not popular.

I'm sure you fully appreciate, Mr Hoon, that average speed cameras will be even less popular than fixed-point ones, because average speed cameras actually work in forcing people to slow down over large stretches of road. Average speed cameras might be a bit more popular if you also upped the ridiculously low speed limits on many of our roads at the same time, but I'm pretty damn sure that's not going to happen.

Oh yes, and average speed cameras can only work by scanning and recording the numberplate details of every car passing by them. The ghost of George Orwell is spinning in his grave, moaning I told you so!

Politicians, eh: don't you just love them?

No good deed ever goes unpunished (part 2)

Pulling up to the M6 Toll Plaza (as they insist on calling it) on Wednesday, I spotted a car in another lane trying to move into mine, so I let it in.

Without even a wave of thanks, the driver pulled up to the barrier, leant out of the window, and threw his four pound coins at the collection bucket. Miraculously, every single coin missed its intended target and rolled underneath his car.

"Congratulations, you missed the side of the barn," I muttered to myself.

By now, there was a queue of cars behind me, so I couldn't reverse. So I sat and watched as the man got out of his car, had a chat with one of the unhelpful barrier attendants, then started groping around under his car to retrieve the coins. Having rescued three of them, he had to get back into his car and, through a series of about 20 backwards and forwards manoeuvres, slowly work it sideways until he could reach the fourth coin. Then he was off in a rage of smoke. Hooray!

Needless to say, I took extra-special care dropping my coins into the bucket.

See also: No good deed ever goes unpunished