Every now and then an idea comes along that is so stupid, so cretinous, that one has to check the date to ensure that an April Fool is not being committed. Thus Paul Maynard, a transport minister, has awarded an £8M contract to test lorry convoying on British motorways. Lorries are to travel in close convoys of three vehicles with the driver in the lead vehicle controlling the others via wireless technology. The rationale is fuel economy and the easing of congestion.
The major justification for this folly is fuel saving, since the lead vehicle ‘pushes the air out of the way’ for the others immediately behind it – the principle of slipstreaming. Undeniably a valid strategy, but how many motorists, I wonder, would be comfortable overtaking one of these convoys, knowing that a few feet away was 35 tons or so of juggernaut travelling at 60 mph with no driver at the wheel? The tragic events of last weekend show the dangers of cars and lorries coming into contact at speed.
Actually, Maynard has not thought this through. One does not need to control the steering by WiFi if the lead lorry tows the other two. Then, of course, motorists could be protected by making a sort of constraining track that the lorries ran along – together with barriers preventing cars crossing into them. Er, wait a minute, haven’t we just invented railway trains?
Container ships – see picture in previous blog – can carry up to 20,000 40 foot containers these days. A lorry convoy containing that many containers would stretch from London to Birmingham and beyond. Come on Maynard, engage the brain! Invest in the railways we already have and cease this insane nonsense.
The wind, weather and tides were perfect for a late summer cruise from Bradwell to Harwich, and thence to Burnham-on-Crouch and back to Bradwell.
Traffic just off Harwich Harbour. The container ship is in the deep water channel so there is little danger of a collision provided one stays in the shallows...
On the visitors pontoon at Ha'penny Pier in Harwich Harbour; 19 boats on a Monday evening. The most I have seen there. In the evening we had dinner at The Alma, probably the best pub in the world...
To catch the tide down the coast we had to leave at 6 am. There was no wind and the sea was as calm as I have known it, reflecting the Gunfleet wind farm in a most eerie way.
Sometime later, the red flags were up on Foulness Island, and sure enough we were shaken by a series of blasts, one of which I felt in my stomach as I heard it... It is disconcerting listening to the cacophony of seabirds one minute and pyrotechnic detonations, quite close by, the next.
We tied up at Burnham Yacht Harbour and were able to sup the delights of the newly refurbished Ship in the high street for lunch. The food was excellent, not so the muzak. They agreed to turn it down – a just perceptible improvement – but it soon got turned up again. Such a shame; a beautiful expensive remodelling job on the pub, seriously tainted by the dreadful racket one has to endure while eating (and drinking).
An even earlier start the next day – 5 am – meant a beautiful view of sunrise five miles off the Dengie Peninsular. We're travelling north-east between the Buxey and Foulness sands.
Seven and a half miles off Dengie there is a break in the sandbanks that run south-west – north-east – the Swin-Wallet Spitway – just deep enough at low tide to allow boats drawing around two metres to cross. Turning left, we were able to run north-west back towards Bradwell, with enough wind to allow a very pleasant return ... in time for lunch at the Green Man...
The value of education
A lacklustre Any Questions, this week, provided one ignored the poisonous rhetoric of one Laura Perrins. Apparently she is co-editor of The Conservative Woman and has written for the Telegraph, Hate Mail, and Catholic Herald; why, I wonder, does that not surprise me?
Anyway, Perrins and the other three failed to spot the ‘elephant in the room’ that was the burningly obvious connection between the first two questions. The first question was something like 'How do we prevent household items being used to murder people?', referencing the use of hired vans etc. in the latest terror attacks. Question two was ‘Is going to university a worthwhile investment?’
Having more or less concluded that there is very little that can be done to mitigate random attacks with vehicles, no-one on the panel, even with the heavy hint of question two, recognized that the only way to deal with this terrorism is by education and debate, the ultimate education being found, of course, in the universities. Only education can reach minds blinded by political and religious indoctrination. There is no other way that this awful urban terrorism can be defeated.
As an addendum I could also comment on the rather tiresome implication in the second question that education should be considered only in terms of financial benefit.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs