Charles Nevin: Common sense for eighty years and counting

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The Independent Online

Happy Monday. A distinguished week this, featuring the 80th birthday of the Highway Code, and, no doubt, widespread celebrations of that heady moment 162 years ago when Walter Hunt patented the safety pin. I have been examining the original Highway Code, and note a wisdom and sensitivity not readily apparent today. How about this, directed at the motorist in regard to pedestrians, cyclists and animals alike: "If the roads are wet or muddy try to avoid splashing them." And this should serve for all occasions, highway or other: "Keep on guard against the errors of others. Never take a risk in the hope or expectation that everyone will do what is necessary to avoid the consequences of your rashness". Splendid. Now proceed with caution.

And more: this week also sees the launch of Action for Happiness, a movement to promote that most elusive of conditions. To help things along, I have seven slices of happy news: 1. The internet is now back on in Georgia and Armenia after a 75-year-old woman cut through a cable with her spade. 2. Peter Crouch is getting married. 3. Soon, you will be able to leave your bin slightly ajar without prompting the arrival of a council Swat team supported by helicopters. 4. That nice Samantha Cameron is back. 5. The first boarding kennels for chickens have opened in Cornwall. 6. This weather's going to cool down at last, thank goodness. 7. The big asteroid heading towards us doesn't get here until November.

This column has remained resolutely removed from the cuts debate: influence must be used responsibly, after much reflection. So, after much reflection, here is my preliminary list of cuts to which, surely, no reasonable Briton could object: the fine cut; the late cut; the crew cut; the generous cut; all this weeping and saying sorry; news items featuring the word Kate; programmes featuring anyone called Kate, especially Lambing Live; Best End of Neck; shorts; people who say "ahead of", "bless", and write "lol"; barbecues; being beastly to the banks; News International's telephone bill. Lol.

Re: happiness. I should point out, in the interests of balance, that Walter Hunt, the inventor of the safety pin (see above), made very little money out of it, choosing, most incautiously, to sell the patent for a few hundred dollars. Happy Monday.