Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Driven to Desperation

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Driven to Desperation

Article excerpt


Road Rage School BBC1, 7pm

GAUDEAMUS igitur, or as the ancient Romans used to say: "Quidquid latine dictum sit altum viditur" (that which is said in Latin sounds profound).

So let us now celebrate some of the world's lesser-known centres of academic excellence, such as the China University of Mining Technology (known to its alumni as Cumt), America's Association of School Business Officials (whose members proudly display the letters Asbo after their name), and the University of Central Kyrgystan (although sadly, the acronym used by fellows of that fine institution is not fit for a family newspaper).

Nor should we forget our own revered seats of learning, although I've often wondered why it is that we have a University of Reading in this country, but not a University of Writing or a University of Arithmetic. Perhaps there should be a combined University of the 3R's, catering for undergraduates with a mental age of 10, where lectures are given by bewildered old professors who are no longer in full control of their faculties.

I didn't even know that there was a Cranfield University, until I tuned into last night's Road Rage School.

Apparently, it was formed by combining Cranfield Institute of Technology with the National College of Agricultural Engineering, and having just spent half an hour evaluating the academic prowess of Dr Lisa Dorn (director of the university's Driver Behaviour Centre), I reckon she deserves the letters BSE, CJD (Oxen) after her name, because she came across as a mad cow.

Yet another lecturer-turned-TVdominatrix, she addressed us in terms that even the audience of Balamory would find condescending, grandly announcing her intention to "improve driver behaviour" by retraining "some of the worst roadragers in Britain", but having seen her willing victims, I wasn't so sure.

"We've scoured the country to find them," she added primly, but we all know that's just producer-speak for scraping the bottom of the barrel in search of extroverts who'll happily play up to the cameras, so that the noxious results can be smeared all over my screen.

Despite the programme's unequivocal title, Dr Dork (no, that's not a misprint) was primarily concerned with bad driving, because "the Highway Code isn't there to be broken". So she was duly horrified by the curious approach to motoring of Linda Northover, who never wore a seatbelt, liked to speed on the wrong side of the road, and frequently had no hands on the steering wheel, because she was too busy giving the finger to passing motorists.

Harry Hayhurst was little better, railing against the driving of female motorists, clacking his teeth with a jaw movement like a ventriloquist's dummy, and outraging Dr Dork by driving through an amber light (although, if she checks her Highway Code, she'll find that that isn't actually illegal). …

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