Why baby names and car insurance should never mix

Celebrities and public figures have a huge impact on the choosing of names for our children. You can bet your bottom dollar that if a particular actor, actress, singer or musician with an unusual and relatively rare name comes to the fore of the public consciousness, within a couple of years the name will rocket up the popular baby name rankings.

It’s a funny business, sometimes we can imbue a name with certain characteristics that have very little to do with its aural or etymological appeal.

Names become vessels of association. Perhaps this is why the name Keira has become hugely popular ever since Keira Knightley burst onto the scene with her breakthrough role in Bend it Like Beckham.

Mostly, beginning with that feel good role and moving onto other blood-warming turns, such as Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice, Knightley has taken on the task of playing the kind of appealing English Rose-type roles that many new parents hope their daughters will grow to echo in real life.

It may also help explain why the name Adolf always stays well clear of the top-rating monikers.

However, the desire of parents to avoid their children suffering notoriety by nominative association is sometimes not enough to protect kids from seemingly cruel and embarrassing names.

Just look at rocker Frank Zappa’s son, Dweezil, for example. Although he is a strong and healthy adult, I wouldn’t wish his name on anyone.

And what about those names that are sponsored, such as an American baby who was christened Goldenpalace.com Silverman after a casino paid for “naming rights? Was this ethical?

And how would you feel about calling your next-born Duck2water Car Insurance? Our belief is that no matter how much you believe in a product or brand, the naming of a child is a sacred process and should forever remain unsullied by commercial motives.

Image © pillowhead designs via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence



Cut costs by sharing

The costs of petrol and car insurance may seem exorbitant, particularly at a time when the economy is in dire peril. However, a large proportion of individuals in the UK would find it impossible to get by without their vehicles.

People who are caught in the catch 22 situation of being unable to ditch their vehicles at the same time as struggling financially, are advised to join a local car sharing scheme. By teaming up with nearby motorist, who drive a similar daily route, it is possible to significantly reduce your driving costs.

In a recent survey by the AA it was discovered that 16,000 individuals would consider joining a car sharing scheme, as long as they could rely on the punctuality of other sharers. However, a significant proportion would worry about sitting in a vehicle with somebody they didn't know.

Edmund King, the AA President, said, “The survey shows that at least a quarter of those who don't car share at present could if they found a driving 'buddy' who does the same regular route at least some of the time.

“That is what [car pools are] about: introducing drivers to the car sharing network, its possibilities and the flexibility it offers.”

Car insurance holders who realise the importance of networking may be interested in commuting with local business people. They may be interested to hear that the government are offering a cash incentive to all sharers.



Avoiding the half term rush

Most UK schools broke up for half term last Friday and many families set off for their October breaks. Cheap car insurance holders on their way back from work found themselves caught up in hectic traffic jams, as cars laden with holiday luggage made their way to the top tourist hotspots.

It seems likely that the motorways will be packed with half term travellers all week long. However, the Highways Agency has proposed a much needed solution in the form an online trip planner, which allows motorists to ascertain when the roads will be busiest.

Steve Crosthwaite, Head of the Highway Agency's National Traffic Control Centre, said, “Our data shows we can expect more traffic on the motorways and major A roads we manage throughout the half term week.

“In contrast to the main summer getaway, the pressure in October is spread around the country more and does not focus so much on a few key holiday routes.”

The Highways Agency does an excellent job of collecting road information from vehicle sensors and CCTVs throughout the UK. Any news of road accidents is rapidly relayed to motorists, using overhead motorway message signs and websites.

Anybody thinking of making the trip to the picturesque coastal areas of Britain over the coming days is advised to thoroughly check their vehicles. It is sensible to top the car radiator up with anti-freeze whenever you are planning on taking lengthy road trips in the cooler months.

Image © leehaywood, via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence



Cheaper driving in the country

If you live in the country, there’s a chink of daylight for your hard-pressed wallet with news that the Government may be able to cut your motoring fuel costs by 5p a litre.

Although there’s lots of good things about rural life, buying petrol isn’t one of them. Not only do you have to drive long distances to find a petrol station but it’s unlikely to be one offering a discount price.

Riding to the rescue is the unlikely shape of Government - representatives have started talks to offer a pilot scheme for drivers in areas including the Hebrides, Orkney and the Shetlands in Scotland as well as the Isles of Scilly off Cornwall to reduce the amount of fuel tax they pay.

Unfortunately, the move will have to be approved by the European Commission but if Brussels approves then drivers in other areas where isolation contributes to the cost of living could also benefit through an extension of the scheme.

Although buying a tax disc is the same price wherever you live, ongoing costs for a vehicle are often higher away from towns where there is competition from a number of garages and spare parts are easily obtained.

However, there is one aspect of driving costs where country-dwellers do actually have an advantage and that’s in buying cheap car insurance.

Because fewer vehicles are stolen and there are fewer accidents, lower insurance premiums are generally available for rural residents compared with their city counterparts.

Image © connor395 via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence




A childhood journey

Ever since I was just starting out as an errant lad I've loved nothing more than Ferraris and explosions.

These two sit at the apex of things that fascinated me in my formative years. Growing up in the 1980s nothing could be cooler: they embodied everything about the decade; its decadence, its destruction, its decadent destruction.

For Ferraris, just think Tom Selleck in Magnum PI, Ferris Bueller in the eponymously titled film, Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice or Sammy Davis Jnr and Dean Martin in the revisionistly risible Cannon Ball Run.

For explosions it is hard to do better than Bruce Willis jumping from a cataclysmically exploding skyscraper with the mere aid of a swinging fire hose – way to go Bruce. Running a close second is Return of the Jedi and the apocalyptic furnace of the flame-gorged Death Star.

It is when my two loves are twinned that the problems begin. Fire-wracked Ferraris have a singular ability to excite and disturb me into a kind of trance of agitated ambivalence.

Thankfully, no-one has been injured, but news images of faulty, car insurance hazardous, Ferrari 458s - a number of the models have spectacularly self-immolated into little more than misshapen hulks of melted metal – have recently stirred my inner-child. Even now he's within me, with wild and frozen eyes, spellbound, perhaps even a little traumatised, unsure what to make of events.

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