I am not a romantic.

I am not a romantic. In fact, in some ways I might be extreme enough as to be an iconoclast. This isn’t in the sense of being a nihilist — far from it. I’m a moderate monarchist, Low Church Anglican with high church attendance and hobbies that are so sedate that even the most curmudgeonly of Dorset grandmothers approve.

Rather, I am an ardent opponent of the smug self-satisfaction that many embrace. Take, for example, intellectually undistinguished xenophiles. “Oh, but speaking French and spending at least part of my year on the Continent makes me all so sophisticated. Look at me, I’m so superior to those numpties voting for Brexit living in the West Country or northern England”.  It would be slightly more galling if they weren’t so identikit. Really, one is almost tempted to feel a certain pity for the lot.Voting “remain” because one didn’t wish to support taking a leap into the unknown is perfectly reasonable. Most intellectually honest Brexiteers have always been willing to admit that there would be many challenges involved. It’s easier to have respect for other opinions if they’re actually original and thought-out, not boiler-plate regurgitations.

Another one of my great bugbears concerns driving. I’ve broken down and concluded that I will have to buy a car. This is proving to be somewhat of a challenge. Even though I’ve been able to come to terms with a manual gearbox, I disdain them and would rather not drive cars that have them. I’m lazy by nature and would rather focus on the flow of traffic, etc, that manipulating outmoded and outdated technology. I bloody well know how to drive, thank you very much. I’ve gone well over a decade without a speeding ticket or accident. It annoys me when my reluctance to make a barely palatable activity more difficult than it needs to is met with scorn and jeers.


Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

25 thoughts on “I am not a romantic.”

  1. Janus: For the most part, electric cars have automatic gears. They’re not well suited for manual gears. It’s a bit of a paradox that in the USA and Canada, where roads tend to be wide and traffic less congested (in most places at least) than in Europe automatic gears dominate. It’s easier to drive a manual in North America. Those times I’ve driven in the UK, the constant stop-and-go makes shifting and using the clutch exceedingly unpleasant. On occasion I’ve nearly wanted to cry in frustration because I can’t even drive 10-15 yards without having to shift again. I will buy an automatic when the time comes simply because I don’t have the patience do reset the bloody car every few seconds!

  2. Yes, that is apparently the case. It’s far easier to have a holistic, integrated driving system in an electric car. Electric and self-driving cars are increasingly “the thing”. Manuals are simply no longer relevant in that context.

  3. Jazz: Car makers design them to sound and drive as much as possible as regular cars. Thus, they have something resembling an automatic gearbox even though it isn’t strictly necessary. They also don’t actually make any mechanical sounds, but a device that makes noise that resembles a regular motor has been installed.

  4. Being a dyed-in-the-wool realist I view an electric, driverless, automatic car as the spawn of Beelzebub fit only for when your most adventurous journey would be to the nearest urban hypermarket or mall to top up on quinoa and avocados. Frankly, I would rather walk than be seen in one, particularly as I’d get to where I was going more reliably and quicker. I’d be able to get back straight away too, without having to wait until the next dawn for it to recharge. Also, never forget that if you buy one of these abominations second or third hand four or five years down the line from now, it will probably have been serviced at some point in his own driveway by somebody called Roger or Brian. My life matters to me, so my chariot of choice will remain my 4 litre, petrol-engined Range Rover Classic, one of the few of its marque with a manual gearbox and bought primarily for that reason, until they prise the keys from my cold, dead hand.

    Meanwhile, in other news, Lord Adonis, a Labour peer (No, I don’t get it either) has resigned today as a government adviser on the grounds that the government is proceeding with Brexit. Hopefully this ignoble trougher, who clearly has problems with democracy when it fails to support his personal vision for what he considers best for the proles, will fade into the doldrums with Heseltine, the soon to be knighted Clegg, Mandelson, Osborne and other shouty, minority irrelevancies with still far too much airtime on the BBC and Sky and too many column inches in the Grauniad.


  5. OZ: The problem I have with electric cars is that their range is an absolute joke. Some of us have to commute, etc. It takes forever for batteries to charge. Hybrids are slightly more practical — but they aren’t what the sanctimonious greens of the world would like to think, either. After all, those lithium batteries require some intensive, at times destructive, mining and the amount of energy required to produce a single battery is breathtaking. Disposing of it when the car is dead and gone is another environmental nightmare. I’m not known for my passion for environment causes, but I don’t like wanton destruction of nature. I like cars of the sort that are sensible for people living in towns — as I do. A small BMW 300, Mazda 3, etc — so long as they’re petrol and automatic. People should drive the cars they wish to drive and be let to get on with it.

    I rather like the stance Lord Adonis took. I hope Labour kick up a fuss like this at least once or twice a month until the next election. Their sneering contempt for British voters will turn more and more against them. The old Dinocracy are dying out, three cheers to their increasing irrelevance.

  6. Like you, OZ, I’ll be doing my bit for fosssil fuel consumption hereabouts. Glad to read though that diesel car sales are in decline – one in the eye for the corporate cheaters.

  7. 90% of our return journeys are less than 50 miles so an electric car would be fine, we could retain the Mercedes B180 for longer trips. The place of the electric vehicle is currently taken by a VX Meriva 1.4 litre which gives a reasonable mpg and is eminently practical. Practicality being high on my list of priorities for almost everything.

    Oz, I am bewildered why people need to drive around in big 4WD tanks.
    The current snow and ice conditions will reveal that most of them can’t drive properly and the low profile tyres on most of these vehicles compromised many of the (alleged) advantages of four-wheel drive.

  8. Virtually gave up driving in Sydney – too many lunatics on the road and have never, ever had any sense of direction whatsoever unless I am using my God-Given-Pair-of-Feet. Drop me in the middle of Beijing and I’ll walk straight back to my Hotel – expect me to drive back from a mile distant – and I’ll be driving for several hours.

    I also hated automatics – until I drove one in Canberra. It allowed me to concentrate on where I was, rather than how I got wherever I wanted to go… even then I always had to go home via a place that I knew.

    This year I was in the UK with my daughter, who drives an automatic here – the cost of hiring one in the UK meant that she had to drive us around in a manual… it was an absolute nightmare for her – most especially on the Motorways where it was up-and down and change gear all the time…

    Forget it Christopher – go with what you’re comfortable with – and enjoy the drive!

    As for electric cars – whatever you drive requires ‘fuel’ of one sort or another and has to be produced with some cost to the environment.

    Why do some of us drive around in big tanks – it’s quite simple – they are more comfortable than a sardine-can on wheels.

  9. Boadicea: Lunatics is the right word for them! I remember Sydney traffic well. Yikes! Even in some of the suburbs it’s an “interesting” experience.

    I’m prone to daydreams and reveries. Sometimes, I end up at my destination without realising how much time — or distance — has elapsed. Some primordial instinct keeps me aware enough not to walk into traffic or to respond to how others are driving, but that’s about it. That, and I have absolutely no sense of direction. I can get lost in open fields and I have absolutely no sense of perspective. Thank the gods for apps that give directions in real time — and show where you are. On far too many occasions I would have been utterly lost otherwise.

    When I had to commute in California I was regularly run off the road and otherwise treated dismally by other drivers for the first few years. I drove small, sensible cars and they took that as licence to play “chicken” with me with impunity. They knew that, with my car being far smaller, I’d be more likely to slam on my brakes and let them drive however they wished. Later, I inherited an old Lincoln Town Car — over 18 feet of steel. Suddenly, other drivers started treating me with more respect. In spite of its massive size, it handled extremely well and the ride was invariably smooth.

  10. Yes I have noticed that drivers of large cars tend to drive as if they have right of way over all.

  11. I’d have thought living in Dorset with inadequate to no public transport it would have been impossible to survive this long without a car!
    Any car!
    The quicker acquired and more economical the better with the price of fuel.
    Good thing you didn’t try Wales, we get one bus a week.
    As for reveries on rural roads, how to end up in the Morgue pretty damned quickly in the UK!
    Why not move into town and buy a bicycle?

  12. CO: It is impossible if you’re not in one of the main towns. I live in Dorchester, no more than 30-40 minutes away walking with no great hurry. Getting to villages and towns that happen not to be served by the main rail lines, however, is a bloody nuisance. In some instances I can more quickly — and easily — reach London or Bristol than something 5-10 miles away. The limitations of not having a car are quickly made apparent. Once I finish crossing Ts and dotting Is, I will buy a car. It’s coming together okay but bureaucracy never moves quickly anywhere and these blessed darlings are always finding new and innovative catch-22s.

  13. Hi Jazz – not all those who drive big cars are as bad as you claim. But I will own that a lot are – especially Mums picking up their Kids from school. Grrrr…. Big monsters training Little Monsters.

    My daughter has just bought a large car – she needs it to transport our two sewing machines around. There is no way that even one of them would fit into a mini – let alone hers and mine.

    I also found that I got better manners from other road-users when I had a large, lumbering estate car than I did when I drove a little sports car.

    But to be honest, the best fun I ever had was driving a really, really old car just after I passed my test. I could stand up to the biggest of vehicles, providing it was bright, shiny and obviously new. The drivers knew that I didn’t care a jot if my heap got yet another dent…

    Biggest smiley thing 🙂

  14. I’m not really interested in cars. They’re purely a means of moving yourself and stuff from A to B preferably in reasonable comfort and economy.

  15. Jazz – I agree with you that most people do not need a 4×4 and that most owners do not know how to drive one properly anyway. Unfortunately the manufacturers, Land Rover included, fell hook, line and sinker for the trend of Daphne absolutely needing one to ferry Rupert and Priimrose to some metropolitan prep school, hence the proliferation of Evoques (Ewoks?) and similar marques with low profile tyres, blue teeth, parking sensors and the like on urban streets and all endorsed by Posh Spice, FFS!. I read a review of the new RR Velar recently in which a mother who had it on so-called ‘long term test’, which was for two weeks actually, was braying that she couldn’t get the car’s infotainment system (whatever the hell that might be) to talk to her Special Little Princess’s smartphone (!), thus absolutely ruining the SLP’s travel experience down the motorway from Hampstead to Truro for the weekend. I shall say no more on this.

    On the other hand, I have owned my current RR since ’92. It has beefed up suspension, a lift kit and wider, heavier tyres to make it even more capable, but it looks no different, more or less, than any other Classic. I live in the boonies and, more importantly, The Cave is a mile up a rutted, stony, muddy dirt track Linkey thing as that ancient link is evidence, (together with some comments from cherished readers sadly missed), M’lud. Neither a Meriva, G-Wiz nor [cough!] a Prius would be much use for everyday transport.

    We have friends arriving in a few hours to help celebrate the passing of the year and watch the coastal fireworks from up here One couple has a Kia Sorento, the other a Volvo XC60.

    Happy 2018, fellow Charioteers.


  16. I’m with jazz on this, its a metal box that either goes or doesn’t go!
    And ends up on the scrap heap!
    Never suffered from other bad drivers, I always wave, smile and give way to them, not worth my stomach lining.
    Never could quite understand why people seem to get so het up about chunks of metal of much more concern is what is holding their ears apart and whether they have a decent garden round a non vulgar home with a good working kitchen.
    God, how I detest vulgarity!!!!
    Mind you, Dorchester never struck me as being vulgar, far from it. But who knows now, I haven’t been there since the early 90s.
    They ought to bring back the ‘hanging assizes’ for bad motoring!
    I do hope Christopher they read Thomas Hardy aloud whilst they crochet.

  17. CO: Dorchester is a tale of two towns in one. There is Dorchester proper — the older, organic part of the town. It is a most civilised place. There is a great deal of lovely architecture, overwhelmingly from the late 17th to late 19th centuries. The people are, on average, a bit older and at least comfortable middle class. I have a trusted test to gauge the economic standing of a town’s population: charity shops. If they’re filled with items of respectable quality and reputable brands, the town is fine. If it’s cheap rubbish, stay clear! Anyway… I’m going off on a tangent. Dorchester proper is a bit ad hoc, as are most Old World towns, but its pieces work well together and there is little damage associated with living in any particular neighbourhood. Nota bene, there are a handful of neighbourhoods — especially Fordington, which carry a bit more cachet.

    Then there is the aberration of Dorchester — the part of town that is left out, ostracised. Its denizens generally live in a state of segregation from Dorchester proper. This is Poundbury. There are actually two Poundburies. There is old, or “proper” Poundbury which is accepted as part of Dorchester. It is one of the two estates built in the late-1970s to 1990. It’s a bit further from the centre of town, but it’s still in feel and practice a part of Dorchester. People work, shop and socialise on the high street and town centre. Then there is new Poundbury. New Poundbury is a world onto itself. People who reside there tend to socialise and shop in that neighbourhood. They have separate banks, shops, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops. On the off chance that they go to Dorchester proper, they’re generally met with either pity and commiseration or suspicion. Which of the two extremes depends on what their view of new Poundbury is. If they’re dismayed and eager to, at the first chance, move to Dorchester proper they’re treated with sympathy. If they’re fond of it, they’re met with suspicion. The new Poundbury is an abortion. It is the brainchild of the Duke of Rothesay. It is supposedly the modern incarnation of an authentic English village. It was actually conceptualised by an architect from Luxembourg. It is reminiscent of a California estate attached, like a class III goitre, to the neck of a proper English town. It is ghastly, vulgar — it is a monstrosity!

    I am the only one who consistently crochets. Most prefer knitting. They are, however, fond of Thomas Hardy. Or at least they pretend to be! While tolerated, I’m generally grouped with the foreigners in the group — members from foreign lands such as Liverpool, Manchester, Wales and Kent.

  18. Interesting, I had heard the POW’s scheme was not all it was cracked up to be.
    Just don’t read Tess of the d’Urbervilles and go to Poundbury on the same day!
    Guaranteed suicide mission
    Must be his most depression inducing book ever. Makes Jude the Obscure look like positively jolly.

    I lived in Blandford for six months, quite interesting, whilst I was looking for a new commercial lease in the late 80s.

  19. Jazz: Dorchester is must as ever, the locals say. Weymouth has sadly done distinctly down market.

    CO: Interesting that you mention Blandford. That is one of those Dorset towns that’s harder — and more time-consuming — to reach than London. Hardy wasn’t the cheeriest of writers, was he? I will very likely get into him. After all, I’m far too keen on Nordic noir.

    New Poundbury is one of those places that, on paper, is a brilliant idea. In practice, it’s terribly depressing. A few people who live there — and can’t wait to leave once their leases/rental contracts are up — have told me that their houses are only 4-5 years old but are already crumbling. My driving teacher, to make sure I know what I’m doing I’m sitting lessons, told me that the only reason to even go there is because the office where driving lessons are sat is there.

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