Monday 1 November 2010

Geography lesson

East Midlands Airport has been in the news over the weekend. Where is East Midlands Airport? Based on my sometimes fuzzy grasp of UK geography, I'd say somewhere vaguely between Nottingham and Leicester. I definitely know it's near Donnington Park circuit.

France 2 (France Télévision's, the French public broadcaster, "flagship" channel) news thinks East Midlands Airport is in.... London. Riiiiiight. Even the closest, and northern-most, "London" airport, Stansted, is about 100 miles further south.

The free weekly, 20 Minutes (think Metro) , situated the airport in "le centre" of England. That's close enough for me.

- France 2 thinks its audience is too intellectually limited to cope with the concept of anywhere in England not being in London
- 20 Minutes credits its readership with a bit more nouse

Maybe you're the same as me

Maybe you too wonder what sidelights (the ones on your car) are for? What are sidelights actually for?

Last week on the drive home light levels were low, and even though the (timer-set) streetlights hadn't yet come on, most drivers were thinking like me and were on dipped headlights. Some utter numpties hadn't seen the need for any lighting at all. Maybe they liked to sneak around and stay invisible. Tactic was working cos you couldn't see them. Some other odd folks were on sidelights. Now I could understand the logic of "it is not fully dark, visibility allows good vision of the road, so sidelights are sufficient to ensure my vehicle is seen" if every motorist was on sidelights. But 80% of us were on dipped headlights. So the sidelight cars were just lost.

My take is that if you feel visibility conditions are poor enough to warrant lights, there is no halfway house. It's headlights all the way. Sidelights should be reserved for street parking manoeuvres, or just plain dumped altogether. They are most definitely not sufficient as driving lights in low visibility conditions. You might be able to see, but it doesn't mean everyone else can see you (that's based on the proviso they actually looked in the first place!).

Of course I do most of my driving in France. I seem to have inadvertently ended up with a car that has some sort of invisibility cloaking device. I know that sounds far-fetched, but it could explain why so many drivers and pedestrians just come out right in front of you with no warning. So I use my headlights to try to cancel out the cloaking device effect. I should be living in Sweden.