Season’s Bleatings

Season's Bleatings

Season's Bleatings

It’s nearly over for another year then. The shopping is nearly done, the TV schedules are as packed with garbage as ever and the family arguments are all set for the big day. But rather than settle for the inevitable disappointment that comes with opening several unimaginative presents on Christmas Day, it seems entirely appropriate to ask Father Christmas for what we would really like to see under the tree.


With the likelihood of an effective road pricing scheme reducing by the second, it is inevitable that the government will fall back on the old faithful wheeze of sticking another couple of pence on fuel duty. The excuse will obviously be an environmental one, but will that extra revenue go on renewable energy sources? I’m guessing not.

Second only to Norway in terms of the price of fuel, a litre of petrol or diesel in the UK costs almost 50% more than in Spain, and at least 10 cents more than in Germany and France. It’s about time it was brought in line with the rest of Europe and actually reflected the cost of production rather than a lack of imagination.


Despite the fact that most of us would fail if we had to take it again tomorrow, new drivers should be match-fit when they tear up their L-plates rather than statistically more likely to end up wrapped around a tree than at any other point in their motoring lives. They should also be in a position to deal with driving at night and on the motorway: suggesting that newbies can get extra lessons after passing to cover those areas is laughable. We’d all be the same in that position, once you have your licence the open road is yours. And everything that comes with it.


It’s all our fault really, but aside from a few exceptions, every new car is bigger, heavier, comfier and more insulated than the last. That’s all very well when it comes to schlepping along the motorway or sitting in traffic, but for the rare occasion when there’s just you and the road, something a bit more responsive and immediate would be nice. Mazda’s MX-5 is nice, but we want something cheaper still: about £12,000, rear-wheel drive, modest power, skinny tyres but good balance and no toys – strip out air-con, electric windows, fancy stereo and sound-deadening and you could have yourself a little gem that would be cheap to run and insure. All it would take is a little bravery from someone and it would sell like AA batteries on Boxing Day.


However Scrooge-like you are, Christmas Day does tend to bring out the best in us, and where good manners and best wishes might be in short supply there is suddenly plenty to go round. If only we could carry a bit of that seasonal spirit out on to the roads, the inevitable hold-ups and poor weather might just be a little easier to swallow. Go easy on the flashed lights and beeped horns and offer a (friendly) wave instead, and we’ll all get home a little happier. Possibly.

By Matt Joy

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