If only . . .

I recently was given a lift by my son in his new car (in order that I might imbibe a couple of celebratory glasses of wine – a first) and noticed that not only did it change gear for him, it also dipped the headlights when another car approached. He then told me that if he was on the motorway and started to stray out of the lane it would give a nudge on the steering wheel and if that didn’t work it would shout at him. I am sure all these features (and ones like anti-lock braking) are making a contribution to road safety but it is a bit much when you are nagged by a car.

This set me to thinking about all the skills that my generation learnt in its youth that are now bypassed. While you don’t need to know how to change gear if you drive an automatic car I do feel that learning to drive a “stick-shift” gives you a better understanding just as doing calculations by hand rather than on a calculator means that you have a better feel for numbers and are more likely to spot a glaring error (such as a 320 metre cable that should have been a 320 mile cable).

With a handwritten document it is down to the author to ensure accuracy of spelling and meaning. When this is handed over to predictive text and word-processors different sorts of errors creep in – correctly spelt but meaningless or inaccurate sentences. After the recent atrocity in Las Vegas a friend wrote ‘. . . . so many lives devastated by the “right to bare arms”. Insane.

If only the second amendment to the US Constitution had referred to the right to bare arms, giving all US citizens the right to roll their sleeves up. Sadly that wording wouldn’t have fitted in with the rest of the Second Amendment where the right to bear arms is preceded by “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, . . . ” Maybe a few centuries earlier a militia made up of men with their sleeves rolled up might have made sense but by 1791 that was clearly not the case. Andrew encapsulated the feelings of many in his latest poem.

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