Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff

DECODING THE HIGHWAY CODE (FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD)

FOR US ’MERICANS, AFTER ALL, it is the wrong side of the road. In any event, the British book You Have Been Warned treats its Highway Code with an anatomically adroit stiff upper lip and tongue firmly in cheek.

You Have Been Warned: A Complete Guide to the Road, by Fougasse and Donald McCullough, Methuen, 1935.

Donald McCullough writes, “The intended road-user, to get the fullest enjoyment from his pursuit (as it usually becomes), should begin with the study of the Highway Code. This is the Road-User’s Statute of Liberty and Magna Carta of the Road, price one penny. It is also the little blue book that used to lie on the hall table.” 

To stress our universal Learner’s status, Fougasse includes a series of illustrations with an “L” as prominent theme. 

This and the following illustrations from You Have Been Warned.

Driver Signaling. “Before embarking on the road,” McCullough advises, “the novice should of course be familiar with the signals to be made by other drivers.

Note that all of these, of course, assumes a right-hand-drive car. And thus, a right turn is as challenging a maneuver as our left turns. 

Know Your Gauges. McCullough observes cogently, “The history of the dashboard is interesting. From its humble beginning as the thing that kept the two sides of the car from falling apart, it rapidly became the centre of interest. This encouraged the experts to persevere until they have evolved every instrument that could possibly convey any sort of anxiety to the mind of the driver.”

Oil Gauge. “This is a little clock with ‘Pounds per square inch’ on its face. It has only one hand, which moons vaguely about. A sudden return to zero can mean a hundred different things to the expert, but never more than one to the beginner, who won’t have noticed anything anyway.” 

Speedometer. “This is another and slightly larger clock, also with one hand. It is linked up with the wheels in some way, and the original idea was that when you were doing 40 miles per hour the hand pointed at 40. Nowadays speeds have increased so much that when the hand points at 80 you are doing 60, and when it points at 10 you are probably in reverse.” 

Radiator Temperature. “A great many cars have got a little device which tells you if the water in your radiator is too hot. If it keeps on points to boiling, you need a new fan belt, or a new radiator, or a new engine, or else a new little device.”

Ammeter. “This is for measuring electricity and is easily recognized, being the only dial that has nought in the middle, and scores both above and below the line. It is the most picturesque means of knowing if your battery is discharging—but not the most usual.”

Rev. Counter. “This, in spite of its name, is a purely secular instrument. It tells you how fast your engine is going, and, if you watch it carefully enough, you can change gear absolutely noiselessly—apart from the tinkling of glass as you drive through a shop window in the process.” 

Clock. “This is the same as any ordinary clock, except that it always points to ten-past seven.”

Throttles. “Foot throttles still have a carnival spirit, and if pedestrians only knew that one’s last car had the brake outside the throttle [a vintage Bentley, for instance] and one’s new car [a Ford Prefect, say] has not, they would use the subway whenever possible.” 

In Town To-Night. “Practically the only difference between driving in London and parking in London is that you may not park on the same spot for more than two hours at a stretch.”

ExcelsiorLittleByLittle. “1. JNO. FETLOCK, Shoeing Smith. 2. JNO. FETLOCK, Blacksmith, Bicycles Repaired. 3. JOHN FETLOCK, Cycle & Motor Repairer. 4. J. FETLOCK & SON, Motor Agent. 5. J. FETLOCK & SONS, Motor Engineers, Petrol & Oil. 6. J. FETLOCK & CO., Automobile Engineers, Tea & Minerals. 7. J. FETLOCK & CO., Automobile Service Engineers, Good Pull in for drivers, Snacks. 8. J. FETLOCK & CO., Free Air, Café open all night. 9. FETLOCK & CO., LTD., Garage Proprietors, Restaurant, Chauffers’ Room at Rear. 10. FETLOCK’s MOTORS, LTD., Restaurant, Dancing, No Charabancs. 11. YE MERRIE ENGLAND (Fetlock’s Motors, Ltd.), Dancing, Dinner 3/6, Bathing Pool, Car Park. 12. CHATEAU D’AMOUR, Diner dansant, Cabaret, Poule de Bain, Fully Licensed.”  

Lubrication Chart. Just in case one is DIY-oriented.

Famous Last Words. “She’s about due for an overhaul now.” ds 

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2022 

2 comments on “DECODING THE HIGHWAY CODE (FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD)

  1. Andrew G.
    March 19, 2022

    Thanks, Dennis! I always love getting a dose of British… humour.

    The tidbit you quoted in Throttles reminded me of when an English friend sat me down for a lecture, prior to a brief trip to London. Among the many items I needed to learn, was that a “subway” is a pedestrian underpass for safely crossing busy thoroughfares. And not what this ‘merican would have confused for the “Tube” or Underground mass transit system. So glad I was warned.

  2. Bill U
    March 19, 2022

    Hello Dennis, more on grease fittings.
    Years ago, in a UK mag called TRUCK, a news item was repeated about a truck overturned on some farm lane. The farmer was summoned with his tractor to set it upright.
    In the meantime, the driver, being the conscientious type, took the opportunity to retrieve his grease gun and lube the (very accessible) chassis.
    (Especially timely as the suspension was unloaded.)
    How many years ago? When drivers carried a good assortment of tools.

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