PC 277 Unintended Consequences

I know some people have stopped reading, listening to or watching the current news stories, such is their general gloomy and doomy nature. Personally I am a news sponge, soaking up the facts, the fiction and the analysis; history is being made as I write. Years ago there was a newscaster here in the UK who tried to provide exclusively ‘good news’ stories; it didn’t last long!  Today there are many websites offering it: www.goodnewsnetwork.org – “good news itself is not in short supply; the broadcasting of it is.” Or www.postive.news –  “the first media organisation in the world that is dedicated to quality, independent reporting about what’s going right.” (See PS Below)

I guess the broadcasting organisations give us the gloomy and doomy stuff because there is something compulsive about its absorption; a little like driving past the scene of an automobile accident – and having to look, to stare, to work out what happened. If you are driving at the time this is an absolute no-no. (Note 1) There’s even a verb in English to describe this foolish action – ‘To Rubberneck’. 

My car key fob: open, close and open tailgate

‘In the old days’ some things were much simpler but technology has given us gadgets galore to make our lives easier. I mentioned amongst other things in PC 167 Modern Complexity (January 2022) the TV remote controls; the need to get up off the sofa to change a TV channel was erased overnight. It’s the same with the locking/unlocking device for your car. A real key was necessary to unlock the doors and boot. Then a remote locking system became pretty standard. My Saab’s key was actually hidden inside a moulding, which fitted into the slot on the console.

On Monday last week I met up with Jon in Bill’s in Lewes. Bill’s, a quirky restaurant both in food and decor, was started by Bill Collison in Lewes in 2001; the second one opened in Brighton and now there are currently over 70 branches in the UK.

Produce for sale in Bill’s

I had parked in the local Tesco car park (free for 3 hours!). After a convivial lunch we walked together upriver back to the car park and to our respective cars; Dick Head had parked so close to me I could not get in the driver’s side. (Note 2)

Fortunately the parking space on the passenger side was empty. I unlocked the door by pressing the key fob ‘unlock’ (obviously) and lowered myself onto the passenger seat then lifting my right leg and placing it in the driver’s side foot-well. It was a good thing I do Yoga as this sort of manoeuvre requires certain flexibility. All good! The key fob was in my right hand and inadvertently the tailgate button got pressed. It rose silently and gracefully into the damp air and it was this, the sense of the damp air that alerted me to the problem. Note 3.

The only way to close it is by pressing the button on the tailgate itself! I extract myself from my delicate position astride both front seats and exit the car. I walk around to close the tailgate and make a second attempt to get into the driver’s seat from the passenger side, keeping an eye on the safety of the Crown Jewels, the proximity of the handbrake level and the location of the key fob. Success! Key into the ignition, start the engine and reverse out of my space.

Mentioning ‘the Crown Jewels’ and we are not talking here of what HM might wear to the State Opening of Parliament, reminded me of other slang words for male genitalia: ‘lunch box’, ‘meat and two veg’, ‘naughty bits’, ‘tackle’ to mention a few. Believe me, banging the Crown Jewels is momentarily completely incapacitating and has been compared with child birth. As pain is very subjective it’s impossible to make a judgment, apart from saying that pain in the nuts fades quite quickly whereas giving birth can take many hours.

But this little experience reminded me of cinematic recreations of two individuals trying to make love in a car. Invariably there is a great deal of huffing and puffing before achieving their goal, for which they should be awarded an Olympic medal for gymnastics. Steamy windows? Well only when Mr Plod spots the car in the deserted car park with its four way flashers operating (something inadvertently pressed the button) and tries to see what’s going on. What was it Tina Turner sang: ‘Steamy windows – zero visibility. Steamy windows – coming from the body heat!

Recently there has been a move to make our internet purchases more secure, by the introduction of a ‘security code’ sent to your mobile telephone. This is a good idea, except that it is not instantaneous! The other morning I bought something online, was told to wait for the ‘security code’ ……. and I waited …… and I waited ….. the page on the website asked whether we wanted to log out ……. I made a cup of coffee …… I checked my text messages – nothing …… I waited …… and finally, after 38 minutes, I got the code which if I had actually been patient and waited for it, would probably have ‘time-expired’! (Note 4)

Now, next week I will be scribbling about …………..

Richard 8th April 2022


PS  Something to mull over; this week recorded the 40th day of the Ukrainian war. In that time western allies of Ukraine have delivered some one billion dollars’ worth of military hardware. On the other side, Russia is receiving one billion dollars each DAY in revenue from its oil and gas sales. 

Note 1 Researchers in the USA estimate that 10-16% of all accidents there are caused by rubbernecking, ie distracted drivers. Some 1000 people are injured daily by distracted driving. You have only got to go onto YouTube to watch people being complete ****wits!

Note 2 In the last year I have lost some weight ….. but the bones don’t shrink! There was absolutely no room – well 15 cms perhaps.

Note 3 Recorded by the comedian Gerald Hoffnung (1925 – 1959), The Bricklayers Story is a tale of unintended consequences and my car experience reminded me of it. Although dated (1958) it should raise a laugh if you listen to it on YouTube. Hoffnung had fled Nazi Germany as a boy in 1939 and died in Hampstead of a cerebral haemorrhage aged 34.

Note 4 I had bypassed the code system by simply putting in my details and finished the payment.

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