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"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A pox on your blaring horns!

The not-so-sweet sound of Chelsea tractors: should Range Rover horns be replaced with the sound of a bleating lamb?
Warning: this vehicle's horn can damage your eardrums.
A pox on the bullying drivers of London (especially, I notice, the drivers of the most horrible postcodes: SW4, SW11, SW3, SW6, SW10  and W8) who cannot resist blasting everyone else with their hideously powerful car-horns at the slightest sign of a hesitation or a missed gear-change.

These fat cats in their bloated-people-carriers seem to have forgotten that is an offence to sound your horn other than in emergencies.

The police seem to have forgotten this too, although their helpful website, AskthePolice.uk,
spells it out:

"A horn should only be used when warning someone of danger, not to indicate your annoyance at a manner of driving.
A horn should not be sounded when stationary on a road at anytime, other than at times of danger due to another vehicle on or near the road.
A horn should not be used on a moving vehicle on a restricted road (basically a road that has street lights and a 30mph limit) between the times of 2330hrs and 0700hrs."

If only these rules were enforced in London's plumpest suburbs, where the residential streets are thickly populated with big fat shiny vanity-wagons, each packing a heart-stopping sound-blast with more wattage than the Rolling Stones had in Hyde Park in 1969 (it seems).

No, I  wouldn't mind if all the car horns were 1960s style poops and honks and beeps.

But, as with engines and headlights, the power of these devices seems to have undergone a dreadful inflation. So often now a bladder-emptying, over-trebly, eardrum-piercing blast emanates from even the smallest, meekest and most modest looking of vehicles.

Of course as a hugely prejudiced anti-fat-cat cyclist (as well as fully piad-up motorist and pedestrian) I am most offended by the noisy, arrogant horns of the posh set in their  hideous Range Rovers and Audis and BMWs and so on. These vast, shiny vehiclkes with their exaggerated comic-book angry face chrome grilles, they are caricature ugly. But how how can they be so noisy? The way they sit in stationary traffic, hitting the noise button, as though that will do any good.

All it does is make the rest of us highly likely to drive like lunatics to get away from them, or better still to switch off our engines, get out of our cars, find the sledgehammer in our car boots, walk calmy over to said Range Rover or Mercedes or BMW - the shiniest, biggest one of the lot - and make a large dent in the most sensitive crease of its obese body-panels.

Oh, sorry.

Back in the 70s I remember people used to pay extra for something called an "air horn". Is that what they use now, or are they some  sort of fiendish digitally enhanced devices? Who knows.  All I know is that there should be some sort of horn tax. And perhaps the chance to avoid that tax by paying heavily to buy a hooter-tone that precisely subverts the machismo of your motor.

In my ideal world, there would be an inverse law, so that  the biggest, fastest, ugliest, most testoserone-packed cars would have to have the most ridiculously meek and mild and silly horn-sounds. One of those huge muscle-bound things -  are they Humvees?  - would, for example, be legally required to play a Pink and Perky number whenever the horn was sounded.

All Rolls Royce and Bentleys would have "Buddy, can you spare a dime" fitted as standard before being allowed out of the factory.

Most 4 x 4, SUV style wagons would have to choose between various British comedy actors' voices of the 1960s and 70s, especially the really camp and nasal ones: "OOOoooh, you are awful! ( but I like you)", "fancy yourself do you? "; "I say!"  etc and so on.

I would have a reverse law for small, pretty cars. Genuine Fiat 500s, for example could have full-blast snatches of Pavarotti (or better still) versions of Nessun Dorma at twice the dciebels of anyone else. Just becaue they are lovely little cars with small...

A beautiful little Citroen 2CV could choose any chanson it eanted, and I wopuld npt object. It could even play Serge Gainsborough if it wanted, or  Edith Piaf, or even Charles De Gaulle himself.

Smart Cars, I am afraid, would need to leanr some humility: I would have them utter only  very basic sounds at their moment of need: "Doh!": "You what?", "Uhhhh?"

And Beetles? Will I be banned forever for suggesting that original VW Beetles might be allowed a little stridnet Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries, etc - but anything post 1999 would have to take a 5 second loop from certain Kraftwerk and Can tracks.

Which just leaves the middle market. What would be the ideal, the approrpriate hooter-tone for  your Ford Focus, your Vauxhall Astra? It would have - in the spirit of this experiment - be something incredibly rare and exotic. The last cry of ecstasy from some endangered species, the call of the - what?

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