Always changing always the same
There is something very reassuring about Roman building
remains. They have stubbornly refused to completely disappear through years of uncertainties
We went to Uriconium this week and saw the largest free
standing Roman wall in Britain. It has survived fire, battles, abandonment, and
the pilfering of stones for other buildings. It is defiant of change and catastrophe.
I looked through the gaps in the walls and saw the Shropshire hills, the Wrekin
and Wenlock Edge and then the Welsh hills. The Romans must have seen them too
as they went about their busy lives. They could have been bathing whilst looking
out at this very same view.
It has not been too reassuring though when looking at our
new Highway Code which has had to alter to keep up with our new ways of life. It
has been updated but at first it was difficult to be sure about what the
changes are. There is now a hierarchy of road users. We are encouraging more environmentally
friendly users – walkers and cyclists, so they get more protection. And with
that comes the ‘Dutch Reach’. I have been practising this. Open the door with
your left hand if you are the driver and your right hand if you are the passenger.
It means that we will naturally turn our heads to make sure there are no
pedestrians or cyclists that could be hurt.
My father did not have to take a driving test at all, and I doubt
if he ever read the Highway Code, which was first published in 1931. In those
days you did not have to bother with mirrors, and you could sound your horn if
you were overtaking which was a rare event.
During WW11 driving tests were stopped as the examiners were
needed to fight. I still have my father’s first driving licence; it is a little
red cloth-bound book. He first signed it in March 1945 and paid five shillings
at the Post Office. It was stamped and authorised. There was no mention of the
driving test or Highway Code. Mind you he did not meet much traffic, if any,
when he drove to the next village.
Traffic now-a-days is hectic, but the thrush has begun to
sing above it all. I can hear it in the early morning on the topmost branch of
the fir tree. The blackbirds stand waiting on our lawn. The moles continue to
heave huge heaps of soil, dark brown against the flat fresh green. The worms
flee to the surface to escape the moles but are instantly grabbed by the beaks
of the waiting blackbirds. It happens every year.