First published in the Northern Echo.
Young Kieran at work’s just passed his driving test and, like the patronising old fool someone of my age can be, I started to go on and on about how insurance companies insist that this was now the most likely time for him to have an accident.
Even though he didn’t really want to hear this, I pointed out that I didn’t want one of our best waiters hurt and, despite what he might think, it definitely is a dangerous time. Employing youngsters, I’ve seen a lot of them come a cropper;; luckily nothing too serious so far. And it also happened to me. Soon after passing my test at the tender age of 17, I’d borrowed my mum’s mini to take a mate home. Stopped at traffic lights in a busy city centre, I waited for them to turn green and then made my way straight across. Unfortunately, the producer of the local early evening TV news programme decided to jump the lights, from my right in his big Ford, and promptly made a mess of Mum’s car. He denied it was his fault at first but we were helped when my Dad found out that the leggy blonde passenger wasn’t his wife – resulting in a prompt settlement.
So that’s alright then. It wasn’t my fault and life went on. But as I’ve grown older and, one would hope, wiser, I’ve realised that, despite this other guy being at fault, I could still have done something about it. Driving’s a necessity for me but I’m lucky that it’s also a hobby. And no matter how many idiots or careless people there are on the road, it’s important to me that I keep out of trouble. So, I think it’s pretty likely that despite the TV producer’s idiocy, I really should have been able to avoid him hitting me. So does that make me at fault? Yes, partially.
It’s just like with the people who travel over the speed limit going past my house. I consider my life far too important to simply rely on passing drivers sticking to the law, so I exercise extra caution when stepping into the road and so far I’ve managed to stay safe. That’s despite the bad guys out there breaking the rules.
Isn’t that just the same with all those bad guys breaking the rules and selling us dodgy-provenance horsemeat rather than good quality, identifiable beef? Shouldn’t we bear some of the responsibility for allowing these charlatans to treat us like idiots who’ll eat any old garbage, as long as it’s stuffed full of flavour enhancers?
We shouldn’t just go around blaming governments and greedy capitalists for everything. Of course they’re at fault but we have to take some of the responsibility; if only for letting them get away with it.
Too many of us are prepared to let others cook on our behalf because we can’t be bothered or have never been taught to do it ourselves. Or maybe we can’t be bothered to shop at our local butchers or farm shops because the supermarket’s convenient and it means you don’t have to get out of your car more than once.
I don’t often say things to promote my own business in this column but, for goodness sake, if we’re going to eat processed food – and that means food prepared and cooked by someone else, then order some Oldfields Pantry ready meals where at least you know which animal went into it. Or buy ready meals from the scores of farm shops in our region or, and I’m beginning to despair a little here, just don’t buy anything that looks too cheap. Because if it looks it, there’s a reason.
And as for Kieran, he’ll get sick of me banging on about him looking out for himself when driving. There are law breakers out there who the police fail to catch and it’s his responsibility to avoid them and make sure he turns up for work or he won’t be able to afford the payments on his car. He’s already sick of me going on about what he eats.