Reviewed: being an arse

16w ago


While I was away on holiday, and therefore not paying attention, something odd happened. The British government starting a consultation into a proposed new law, to cover ‘death by dangerous cycling’.

Cycling groups were up in arms, and actually I’m with them. For years various ‘action groups’ have campaigned for bicycles to be registered, for bicycles to pay road tax, for bicycles to pass a roadworthiness test, for bicycles to blah blah blah, but it’s all just the hollow rantings of people who think the world’s ills can be cured with paperwork.

And in any case, if someone is capable of riding a bicycle in such a batshit way that they can knock down and kill someone (it’s happened, sadly) then isn’t there already a law to cover that? There would be in May’s Britain, because it would come under ‘Don’t be an arse’, which is the only law a completely civilised country needs.

This brings me to driving, where I find too much evidence that a lot of people are still in breach of the Arse ruling.

'It was your fault for being in the way'

Here’s the issue. When I were a lad, the car was the undisputed king. Nothing was allowed to impede it, and if you were run over by one then it was your fault for being in the way of progress.

But that’s all changed, and rightly so. The place of the car has been massively reassessed over the last decade, and it’s come under scrutiny for undeniable offences: for the pollution it produces, for the noise and smell it makes, for the clutter it causes, for the resources it consumes, and for the congestion it creates. And because it runs over people, if you’re not very careful.

In fact, I foresee that the end of cars will come not because of environmental concerns, but because it will become legally untenable to own and operate one. It therefore falls to us, as ambassadors for something that most people regard as a dreary necessity but that we love, to delay this dreadful day as long as possible. And I’m afraid that means not being an arse.

So, if the road is remote and open and the weather good, give it some beanage. I do. But no speeding in built up areas, no wheelspin, no traffic-light drag races, no donuts in supermarket car parks, no loud pipes, and absolutely no drifting, even on the moon. And never, ever, blow the horn. Honda’s motorcycle brochures used to include a little edict that said ‘Good roadcraft and courtesy identify the skilled and stylish rider’. That’s how we need to be seen, as skilled and stylish, for the sake of our hobby.

Just so you know; in May’s Britain there is only the one law and also only one punishment. All offenders are given the same size rock, plus a hammer, and a fine-grade sieve through which all the broken up bits have to pass. The only thing that changes is the size of the hammer.

If you’re a murderer or a rapist, you get one of those minuscule watch-makers’ mallets, and you’ll be there until you die. If you just drove through the village a bit too quickly, you’ll get a massive lump hammer and you’ll be free by the end of the day.

Racing through the town centre and running over people? God, you’ve got a tiny tool.

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Comments (232)
  • James May, the grandmaster of automobile philosophy and legal pontification "Don't be an Arse!" I think that was one of the original 15 commandments, but Moses was an Arse and dropped 5.

    6 days ago
  • Aaaaah, common sense, soon to be legislated against I fear.

    13 days ago


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