I wrote this when I was 151, for 4th year English. After reading a couple of newspaper columns as a class, we were told to write our own such essay under the title “Don’t get me started…”, about things which annoy us.
Mine turned out quite well. It was good enough to be included in my Standard Grade Folio, and it remains the only piece of writing for which I have won an award2. I didn’t even know about the competition, until my teacher, Mrs Stevenson3, asked if I would mind if she entered my essay into it.
Several months later she told me that the judges had liked my work, and that I was a finalist. It meant that I got to spend lunch with Perth Rotary Club4! We had turkey.
7th June 2007 – Students from Perth Academy, Perth High and St.Columba’s High School entered the Neil McCorkindale Schools Writing Award organised by the Rotary Club of Perth. Winner Stephen Jarvie from Perth’s – St.Columba’s is pictured receiving the McCorkindale Salver for his essay entitled ‘The Night’ from Club President Bill Millar, in 2nd place Wilf Wilson of Perth Academy6 for his essay entitled ‘Don’t Get Me Started’ and 3rd Jennifer Gunn also from St Columba`s for her ‘Untitled Essay’ won prizes.
DON’T GET ME STARTED…
The last century has been a wonderous time for new inventions and technological advances which have helped speed up the world, get everyone connected, and has also helped relieve us of some of the more mundane tasks of life. Whilst I usually embrace anything to enhance my enjoyment of life, with these steps forward comes a rather unfortunate drawback – and one that I just can not stand – laziness.
Take for example, possibly one of the most abundant of inventions of the twentieth century, the car. Whatever type, be it 4×4, estate, coupé, SUV or just a plain, normal car (automobile if you like), there are so many things just waiting to be moaned about – the noise, especially in the countryside, the pollution, the horrific deaths and crashes – but the biggest of my concerns is with the drivers of these mechanical beasts.
This summer, travelling and camping around Scotland, and down in England clocking up nearly 400 miles on my neat little racing bike (which I particularly enjoy, and hurts no one), I came across some of the most contemptible behaviour, near misses, ignorant or selfish drivers with their accelerator seemingly jammed at 40mph (a whole rant in itself that one) and of course the downright dangerous and speedy driving which, thankfully, is illegal. If only it was enforced more rigorously.
What is perfectly legal however, to come back to my original point, is to be a lazy driver. We have all seen them – I hope you are not one of them – and they really make my blood boil. The ones who drive 100 metres to the post office or 500 metres along to the nearest supermarket really annoy me. Usually, this is just to avoid a walk that would take as long as it does to get some oven chips out of the freezer, pop them in at 220 degrees, and then return to watch a less than intelligent chat show host (Trisha and Jeremy Kyle are two examples in this satanic profession) in their relentless job of solving problems in generally dysfunctional families.
This is by no means an innocent act. Firstly, they are harming themselves. The time saved by driving is negligible, and will most probably be squandered on television watching, eating ice cream, or a combination of both in the majority of cases. Moreover, although the walker (or why not the cyclist) will spend slightly more time in transit, the time will be more than reimbursed with a longer, healthier life. These miles really start to add up. And – my gosh – if I ever come across a person guilty of this terrible crime to themselves, the environment and society, that also goes to the gym, I will need someone to restrain me! The hypocrisy of being able to find time to work out (and pay for the privilege!), but then not for a walk (which costs nothing), is terrible. People as such are just begging to be criticised and ridiculed – and so they should be. Driving to the gym to exercise… don’t get me started!
The environment also loses out in this situation: buzzing around town at an average speed of 15mph is highly inefficient for a car engine, and the pollution generated is crazy. A more environmentally friendly car, such as an electric one or a car of a cleaner variety now emerging onto the market would be a better choice for the environment. Unfortunately I doubt there will ever be a zero pollution car, as tyres and road use all leave their mark upon the earth.
My final point, or annoyance, about these unnecessary car journeys is the danger they pose to other people. I am sure if I knew the statistics, I would be even more horrified at the number of people seriously injured and killed on the roads every year, but I think my terror is currently sufficient. On the weekly Tesco trip, I have never head of two walkers dying from banging into each other, or from walking too fast – and walking sensibly will keep you safe from all but the most crazed and drunk (and possibly determined) drivers. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about them.
My piece on unnecessary journeys complete, I come to the next focus, which was in fact inspired just a few hours ago after watching Donald Macintyre’s “Big Sting”. I am referring of course – if you go anywhere near Channel 5 you may already know – to people who park (wrongly) in the disabled spots in car parks.
You see it all too often: people pull up in their cars, open their door and – usually as an overweight person – take a couple of steps into the shop because they took a disabled space. Perhaps now being overweight is considered a disability, but without a certificate, these disabled spaces are a no go area. The permitted spaces just a few metres further away are obviously too much for some, who see their legs not as a mode of transport, but more as a fat store, or something to put trousers over. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against overweight people per se, but I don’t agree with the lazy kind of people who allow their bodies to deteriorate through their own actions (or lack of actions). That though, is another interesting and contentious subject to some extent, which deserves its own piece.
Back to the television programme and I saw some of the most appalling behaviour. A coincidence, perhaps, with what I had previously written before I watched the programme, was the location the cameras had taken – a gym car park. Now, I am not sure about you, but I can say with some certainty that I have never seen a physically disabled person at a gym. Maybe some go to the café, or go to give support to friends, and that is presumably what warrants disabled parking at a gym, which at first glance might seem like an oxymoron. A person who needs a disability pass for the car, by definition, probably can not use a running machine or the weights. Alas, the people caught on this programme were all using the parking spaces wrongly. There were examples of people who when confronted just replied that they didn’t care, or lied that their friend (seen later running very energetically from the gym) was disabled. Perhaps I have been a little harsh on these offenders, as I am sure the spaces were underutilised, but this is definitely an issue in places other than gym car parks.
I thankfully have a solution for such lazy people who demand a parking space right next to the supermarket or store… chop off your legs! You probably never use them anyway, and you will give a welcome boost to the stair lift market. Then, as well as have something to put on your mantelpiece, you will be issued with a disabled sticker, and a disabled parking space will be guaranteed for you. Unless, of course, it has already been taken by a selfish fully functioning person, like you were before your ‘operation’, and you will have no way of fighting back. Perhaps after that you will finally start to agree with me.
THOUGHTS: I’m still pleased with this essay and proud to put my name to it. Like Murray when he looked at some old writing, I can definitely see how my writing has improved8. I will also admit, with my tail between my legs, that I have now been to the gym in a car. Several times9. Shame on me.
- My Word document of this essay was created in September 2006, although I would have written it by hand initially, some time before. [↩]
- I also got £20 of Waterstones vouchers for it! [↩]
- A wonderful person; I miss her. [↩]
- Old people. [↩]
- That ginger guy there seemed to take part in all the competitions that I did. I’m proud to say that I always beat him. [↩]
- That’s me! [↩]
- Unedited except for typos. [↩]
- There is only one part of this where I just had to change the word order of a sentence, I just couldn’t resist [↩]
- Admittedly it is a 3 mile round trip, and it does get very cold in winter here. [↩]