bird's eye view
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by the Hawk • Idol thoughts
Next time you find yourself listening to horrific tales of 44 ton juggernauts thundering through peaceful English villages, tell the chap to brush up his Sanskrit. Anglicized juggernaut means a relentless force and is derived from Jagannatha (lord of the world) which was the title of the Hindu god Krishna whose idol was annually dragged in procession on a huge cart.
Nowadays people seem to be putting the cart before the force.
• Hitting Yorkers
Talking of which, Keith Buckby, York Trailer's sales engineering manager, did a good batting job for the transport industry on ITV last week, I thought, facing a fiveminute barrage of questions about heavier vehicles and the like. He told his questioner that if Britain was to be competitive it had to bring gross vehicle weights into line with those used on the Continent, and that an increase was needed to permit fully laden shipping containers to be carried safely and within legal limits.
Keith also made the point that allowing bigger vehicles could mean fewer vehicles— and there was little chance of overall vehicle sizes being raised. Asked about the effect of heavier vehicles on roads and elderly buildings, he agreed that road maintenance costs might be increased but thought that the ancient buildings problem might have to be met by routeing some vehicles away from the centre of older towns.
I'm boggling again. This time it's the Road Research Laboratory that's set me off. Under the title Report LR 295: The Distribution of Traffic in Great Britain Through the 24 Hours of the Day in 1968 they've produced pages and pages of figures and graphs whose purpose 1 can only guess at, but whose compilation and calculation must have taken thousands of man-hours.
Does anyone really miich care that motorcycles on motorways on Fridays in February are at a peak between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., when they accumulate 13.7 per cent of total motorcycle travel for the day? More to the point, what use is it all? 1 simply cannot believe that this sort of detail is of any real value even for future road planning. And reports of this sort are such ancient history, I'd have thought—days in 1968 seem very remote from 1970.
This particular document, which covers only Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, carries an intriguing note: "It is possible that 7-day 24-hour counts will be carried out in the future provided the demand is justified." Ah! Now who creates the demand, and for what purpose? I know too well who pays for it all in the long run. You and I!
Tom Blacklock, the effervescent chairman of Tyre Services Ltd., distributing subsidiary of Goodyear, is a past master in the art of communication. Tom is well known as an orator in the North of England, but last week he recruited the services of a dozen other people to speak to the executives and senior management of his company. In three days the tyre men heard speakers on such subjects as internal audit, interview techniques, decimalization, merchandising. advertising, transport legislation and domestic developments.
He explained to me: "Timing is important. After a heavy year, the uplift of the festive season and then the return to business when one is physically and mentally run down, this is the time when the staff need an uplift. I can almost see them coming in to the conference worn out, then three days later they leave this place walking tall."
Freedom was in the air at last week's court dinner of the Worshipful Company of Carmen. Not least in Sir Reginald Wilson's toast to the company. If one person or body is discriminated against, we shall all be in for it eventually, he warned, expatiating on the current erosion of liberty. He reminded liverymen that the carmen of Henry VIII's day banded together against the establishment (i.e. Henry) but that "carmen" have long been martyrs to discrimination and execration. Others will soon be in the same boat. said Sir Reginald with a twinkle.
He thought the real cause of freedom being circumscribed was the misguided belief that the modern state and its functions could be managed by science and technology. There was applause when he remarked that this overlooked the simple fact that the state was composed of people, not things. I felt there was more than a touch of personal experience in his complaint that the legislature, executive and judiciary were getting out of balance, and that civil servants were really becoming part of the political management of the country.
Any suggestion that a carmen's dinner is an entirely serious function had previously been dispelled by Roy Foster-Brown, a rearadmiral who saw his role as an entertainer and poured out a torrent of stories about naval signals. Like the one from a harassed naval person who found himself at Tobruk in charge of some of the army's recent captives. He signalled the C-in-C Mediterranean: "Have 14,000 starving Italian prisoners, no food or supplies and no transport; please advise." Back came: "Take immediate precautions against being eaten!'
There was, however, a sober side to the evening. The master of the company, J. S. F. Pollitzer, said that although the livery now numbered over 400, attendance at functions had been disappointing. And to give the finances a boost, voluntary subscriptions were being invited; already over 100 liverymen had responded.
Mr. Pollitzer also revealed that John Crawford, a one-time master who is now over 80, had been made an honorary member of the court.
I had a fascinating time at the aforesaid function, flanked at table by Dutfields pere dills. H. T. Duffield is perhaps best known to CM readers as a past national chairman of the RHA, but he is also a past master of the carmen's company and the oldest member, having become a liveryman in 1919.
It is, he assured me, an ancient privilege of the carmen's company to position a horse and cart outside the Mansion House and ply for hire. Trying it in 1970 would be something to see! Though I gather they still try to use the privilege once a year to keep it in being—the main problem being to get the horse and cart.
I was very interested to learn from E. G. Dutfield, who is m.d. of Dutfield Commercials of Salisbury and Westbury, Wilts, that in his Rootes dealerships he is now accepting truck-maintenance contracts with very onerous conditions, to satisfy the needs of 0-licensing and reassure operators. The contracts undertake specifically to keep the vehicles in a roadworthy condition; I gather that the terms are not cheap (how could they be?) and that in return he expects to be given decent information about how the fleet is run and access to drivers' records.
It is going to be very illuminating in the next few months to see just how many truck service people are eventually obliged to offer something of the sort if they want to keep the business.