bird's eye view
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by the Hawk • Bullion bash
George Tullett, Fred Abdee and Bill Strath are all transport men in East London who occupy adjacent premises. They often go to lunch together, they go to the London TMC together and, on occasions, they visit the bank together. Having been to the bank one day last week in Fred's car, they turned into a side road in Bethnal Green, only to find it blocked by another car. Without warning, Fred's windscreen was smashed in by a hammer, a shotgun was stuck through the driver's window and a voice said: "Give us the bag."
Sitting in the back seat, the imperturbable George said characteristically in his gravelly tones: "Yes, go on Bill, give him the bag." Bill obliged, and off ran the snatchers. A few seconds work and all too easy. But the reward was small—the bag which the snatchers were so keen to steal contained only the loose change; the rest was elsewhere, so that the loss was not great. At least, George and Bill didn't lose too much but poor Fred lost a gold filling when the hammer struck his mouth.
If Britain does go into the Common Market, transport operators will probably feel that they are living again through the 1967-8 era, when the Transport Bill was being thrashed out. The Community's Council of Transport Ministers is still wrestling with problems, and agreements on a number of issues is still some way away. For example, the Ministers of Transport were unable to agree last week on the final design of tachographs, which become compulsory in Europe in 1975.
It appears, however, that some of the reticence and mistrust which has been a traditional attitude in the Council for some time is disappearing, and reports have it that the French and Dutch ministers were competing enthusiastically with each other with ideas to give a new boost to the common policy. Now that they've all got so friendly, perhaps we shouldn't go in and upset them?
• More gas
The sudden burst of interest in LPG as a vehicle fuel in Britain must be causing some surprise among the Continentals, who have been using it for years. Several fleet engineers I have spoken to recently are very enthusiastic about LPG and think its prospects are enormous. Now we just have to hope that Customs and Excise and the Treasury will not go back on the present understanding by advising a swingeing great tax on the stuff as soon as it is in widespread use.
The light is also dawning across the Atlantic apparently. My informant in Canada, for example, tells me that Ontario public works department plans to convert several light trucks to LPG to see whether it is possible to reduce air pollution without sacrificing efficiency. They've chosen Ford mail vans for the initial tests, but since some of these Canadian post vehicles run pretty far from home, range without refuelling is an important factor. The simple dual-fuel system would answer that point, I would think.
• Wrong sleuth It didn't take sharp-eyed readers long to spot the "Frank Barlowerror in that news item about the LDoY Final in last week's issue. It just goes to show that the staff writer responsible is no TV addict. It should have been Charlie Barlow, of course (or Stratford Johns), as any Softly, Softly or early Z Cars watcher knows very well. As Bert Parris of Cranfield was the first to point out (on a very
nice old postcard showing a National bus operated by the National Steam Car Co. Ltd), "Frank" is Frank Windsor who plays John Watt. Complicated, perhaps, but as real as the livin', breathin' neighbours to those who never miss an episode.
• Game is the spur?
Talking of LDoY, they were setting records at regional rounds last Sunday. New and old centres alike were getting through the day's duties very slickly, and in some places prizes were being presented at 3pm, almost two hours ahead of the schedule. Only at Edinburgh, I gather, did they proceed at a more usual pace and finish at the scheduled time.
Could there be any significance, I wonder, in the fact that England and West Germany were appearing on the box that same evening, playing some sort of game, I believe. Er, football, I think?
• Safety stats
Even the US Department of Transportation, it seems, can't make up its mind about recommending that safety belts should be compulsory in large trucks. But the figures in a Bureau of Motor Carrier Safety survey, over a 10-month period, show that passenger ejection was involved in no fewer than onethird of all truck accidents and accounted for 63 per cent of the fatalities in such accidents. The study covered 211 of the more serious accidents in which the driver and/or relief driver (or mate) was killed or seriously injured.
Out of 231 truck drivers involved, only nine were wearing seat belts, and none of these was ejected or suffered fatal injury.
I know a lot of people are against belts for truck drivers, because of the risk of loads coming through the cab, but the American figures make you think.