Our fine four fendered friend

I don’t think I’m alone in being excited at the news that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is set to fly again in a newly commissioned sequel to the original Ian Fleming story.

Despite its pretty dreadful songs, out-dated special effects, convoluted plot and truly sinister, nightmare-inducing villain, the Child Catcher, the film adaptation of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has appealed to children of all generations ever since its release in 1968.

As a kid I saw the film that had been adapted from the book, read the book that was adapted into the film and then read the book that was adapted from the film which had been adapted from the original book. Yes, my head’s spinning too.

And, just to complicate matters, having taken my own kids along, I have now seen the stage musical, which has been adapted from the film which was adapted from the book, which was… well, never mind.

As I imagine it was for many, I didn’t actually love any of the adaptations that much. For me it was never about the narratives, or the characters (the human ones, anyway) – they were all incidental. It was almost all about the car.

As a six-year old boy, I just found something so fundamentally beautiful and compelling about the Chitty, a 1920s Paragon Panther with its hidden wings, innumerable gadgets and real, living character.

Admittedly, by the time I was eleven, I did find some small romantic interest in Truly Scrumptious, which, had I actually watched the film again at 13 might have begun to match my interest in the car.

So, to whoever’s been commissioned to write the sequel, just give me the car, it’s all I want – 300 pages of it and little else.

And, please, give Chitty Chitty Bang Bang cheap car insurance – 300 pages of him being grounded without cover would just be too painful.

Image by cletch via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence




In for a penny

Good news everyone – petrol costs won’t be going up again for a while since the Budget was announced yesterday!

George Osborne lowered the price of fuel by one penny on each litre from 6pm last evening, introduced the stabiliser so many motorists had wanted for so long, and halted the five pence rise in fuel costs until next year.

Now, a penny less doesn’t sound like much – but at least it’s not a penny more – and as one famous proverb and well-known company says, “every little helps”.

After all, 100 pennies make one shiny pound, and with a pound you can buy almost two whole chocolate bars in most shops – or any one item at your closest pound shop.

Go out and enjoy yourself – don’t spend it all at once!

Image by CJ Isherwood via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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Water exciting transport idea!

Here’s a story which caught our eye because of our duck and water namesakes.

The Greater London Authority has decided to give the go-ahead to a cable-car which will hang over the River Thames, linking the O2 Arena with the Royal Docks by July 2012.

Apparently the cable-car will be strong enough and quick enough to carry 2,500 passengers an hour, 50 metres over London’s famed waters – or as Boris Johnson put it, people will be “able to cruise the east London skyline via an elegant cable car spanning the mighty Thames”.

According to the mayor, the scheme, which is going to cost £25 million, is a “much-needed river crossing” and will be “a truly exhilarating way for Londoners and visitors to explore our great city”.

Well, Boris is certainly making it sound exciting – we can’t wait to try it out.

Image by Mike_Lawrence via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence

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Stifle that sneeze to stay safe

There I was stuck with nothing to write about when I was seized by the most violent sneezing fit I have ever experienced.

The whole office was silenced to an awed-standstill as my body became uncontrollably wracked by a staccato series of convulsive sneezes.

When it was over, as well as being left with a huge feeling of relief and release I was also left wondering what would have happened if the sneezing fit had occurred only half an hour earlier, as I was driving to work.

How, I wondered, would I have remained in control of my car?

The answer is that I probably wouldn’t. Because on being moved to Google my curiosity, I found that sneezing fits do indeed cause accidents and even add to the overall cost of car insurance.

Only this week a Welsh woman was cleared of causing an accident as a result of dangerous driving after her solicitor successfully argued that she had succumbed to an involuntary fit of sneezing – legally this is known as a defence of “automatism”.

The solicitor commented, "There are other cases where motorists have been cleared of driving offences when the driver had a bout of sneezing."

From now on I’ll think twice about getting behind the wheel when I’ve got the sneezes.

Image by djcmackay via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence



A slur on Slough – surely not

It’s hard not to feel for the good folk of Slough. For a long time the town has been inextricably linked in the minds of most Brits with one of the most famous poems in the British language.

Call me ignorant or a foolhardy romantic but when I think of poetry I usually think of quaint conceits and flowery language but late poet laureate Sir John Betjeman certainly didn’t have these things in mind when he composed his ode to the town.

His poem begins, “Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!/ It isn't fit for humans now,/ There isn't grass to graze a cow./ Swarm over, Death!”

Oh well, at least there’s a reference in Shakespeare to cheer the town up – or not, with it’s single reference describing it as a “mire”. Not quite like being compared to a summer’s day that.

And things have hardly got better recently with the release of a study which shows Slough to be in the bottom five of the list of the UK’s car friendliest towns.

And there is bad news cheap car insurance hopefuls in the town. The same survey revealed that Slough was also in the bottom five for vehicle theft.

But before I drop another news bomb on the town, I think I should let it speak for itself.

A local councilor comments, "It is a shame a survey like this concentrates only on issues which involve the expenses incurred by car drivers rather than the whole experience of driving.

"In Slough we have invested time and money in our road network ensuring the road surface is of a high quality, potholes are filled quickly and our roads are safer for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists."

Image © osde8info via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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What, with my car? Not on your nelly!

“It was then that I noticed he was in lust,” is, I hope, not something I ever have grounds to say about any encounter I may share with an elephant.

Yet for one 66-year-old Irish motorist, this is precisely what happened when, celebrating his birthday in a South African game reserve, he found himself “hemmed in” by an enormous, amorous and salivating elephant.

The Irishman told press that the elephant “was agitated” and “started to rub himself against the car, breaking the wing mirrors and cracking the windows”.

"When he began to tip the car over I started to get worried,” he added.

Hang on a minute! He began to feel worried only when the elephant began to tip the car over?

Call me a coward but I feel confident that my level of concern would have hit the extreme mark at about the time the frisky dumbo approached the car with a rose clasped in its trunk reciting love poetry. If not that, then certainly at the moment it locked my vehicle in a passionate embrace.

Talk about bad luck… It’s thought to be the first known case of an elephant attempting to mate with a car. Biologists believe that the offspring would have resembled a kind of four-wheeled super-industrial hoover with floppy ears.

Imagine the disbelief of the man’s car insurance company when they caught the claim: cause of accident? Amorous elephant.

Image © exfordy via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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