You're never too old to get hit by a car - so stop, look and listen to my advice about crossing the road

Plus, the German education minister who plagiarised her thesis 33 years ago

Share
Related Topics

Say goodbye to Tufty the Squirrel. Road safety adverts for children – which have been on TV one way or another since the 1960s – are being axed. Budgets at the Department of Transport have been reprioritised, a usage which has surely caused Orwell to spin in his grave. We’re all in this together, you’ll recall. Particularly those of us whose heads are near bumper height. With the next generation having to take their chances, I would like to provide this handy guide to road crossing at any age:

1 Look both ways before you cross. Then look again. Is that erratic driver swerving because he or she is pothole-dodging, on the phone, or drunk? Err on the safe side: don’t cross.

2 Follow step 1 even when it’s a one-way street. That high-pitched whining sound is someone reversing at speed in the opposite direction to the way the arrows are pointing. Leap out of the way. Try not to learn or recall any of the names the driver just called you.

3 Be aware of the “They Don’t Mean Me” philosophy. Many drivers think that rules, like taxes, are for the little people. Why stop at a zebra crossing, or even a red light, when it’s so inconvenient? They don’t mean me, thinks the driver who swoops through, one hand on the steering wheel, the other holding mobile phone to ear. This driver is a sociopath. Stay on the pavement.

4 Listen before you step into the road. If you hear a car, don’t cross. If you don’t hear a car, check you’re not about to be mown down by a Prius. I once borrowed one of these hybrids, and had to put my head on the steering column to tell if the engine was running. Shhh.

5 Anyone driving an SUV or similar anywhere other than on rough terrain is an idiot. Chances are they’ll drive like one. This is doubly true if the driver is the only person in the car.

6 Any minor inconvenience to a driver means they are owed one by the world. This includes you. If a lane is closed, for example, this justifies swerving into another lane without indicating, and speeding for the next five miles. Observing other road-users is now optional. Don’t cross.

You must be Schavan a laugh

The Germans are brilliant at creating compound nouns, like Blitzkreig (lightning-war) so it seems right to applaud any chance for them to create another. And the plight of former education minister Annette Schavan is just such an opportunity.

Ms Schavan has had to resign from her post, after being stripped of her doctorate last week by Heinrich Heine University, which has alleged that she plagiarised her thesis, 33 years ago.

For the education minister – who oversees universities amongst other duties – to resign in such circumstances is so horribly apt that Schadenfreude (harm-joy) doesn’t really cover it. Surely no one would take joy in her downfall, unless they were her political enemies. But a word needs to be coined to describe the ugly satisfaction one gets when something simultaneously so neat and nasty occurs. Schavan-freude?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Engineers / Senior Electronics Engineers

£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Misleading Translations: the next 40

John Rentoul
Syrian refugee 'Nora' with her two month-old daughter. She was one of the first Syrians to come to the UK when the Government agreed to resettle 100 people from the country  

Open letter to David Cameron on Syrian refugees: 'Several hundred people' isn't good enough

Independent Voices
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project