It is this same impulse that makes many in suburban Britain so fond of their automobiles. People live and work with those who are the same as them, and the only opportunity to mix with those from other social groups or ethnicities might come from travelling on public transport.

I thought I was not like this. Although I spend a good deal of time in cars, I also walk and cycle, so I imagined I was mixing with my fellow citizens, absorbing how other people feel and think. But then my wife gave me a fabulous birthday present - an Oyster card, which is topped up with money and then swiped to gain access to public transport throughout London, often at a discount - and I realised I was wrong. For intimacy, be with your fellow humans on public transport: it gives you a greater insight into the way people's minds work, and having spent some time with them, they're terrifying. I've never heard so many frightening opinions or eavesdropped on so many alarming anecdotes about fights, crimes, terrorism and drunkeness.

As soon as I can, I'm going to buy myself the biggest, toughest vehicle available and never get out of it - I may live in it. But following the demise of Rover MG, I've resolved only to purchase a mass-produced, British-owned-and-made motor vehicle. Sure, there's the LDV Maxus van, which I wrote about a few months ago, but it would be nice to have a broader choice.

Then, while watching TV the other night, I saw a vehicle that has one-in-four of the world's sales in its category - the JCB backhoe digger. Where JCB could really expand is by selling itsvehicles to markets outside of the construction industry; for example, to frightened people like me, who up to now have bought impractical 4x4s or big pick-up trucks - even though they don't have any real need for them, but simply because these oversized, chunky motors give a false sense of security - and who would be attracted to the JCB as the next step up from the Humvee if it was marketed in the right way.

After all, the JCB backhoe digger has got a huge turbo engine, a giant glass cab with opening rear and side windows, front and rear windscreens and a big hydraulically powered arm - like the tail of a dragon - to sweep other school-run mums out of the way. Of course, the kids would have to travel to school in the digger's bucket, but that'll do them good. I also guess it would be really cool if you were cruising through the LA 'hood to tell your homies that your ride was something called a "backhoe".

motoring@independent.co.uk

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