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Driving To Reading With The Radio On

I went to Reading. Somebody has to. Miles and miles of meandering, mundane motorway culminating in a car crawl through roundabouts and traffic lights just trying to get into the outskirts of the town. I can’t imagine what the centre must be like. Fortunately I was in the surprisingly enjoyable Audi A4 3.0L TDI S-Line (still with me at the mo – reviewing next week) you see in the image so at least my peace of mind remained undisturbed. Or so I thought…

Although cars have all manner of ways to listen to tunes these days, they still retain good old steam radio. The previous user had dialled into Radio One, poor soul. Well, Reader, I was appalled by what came out of the speakers and I will tell you why in a minute; but first this:

I chose to do an economy run en route to Reading and pottled along the inside lane of the M4 at a steady 56mph where possible. This gave me a chance to review and generally comment on other peoples’ driving. (When one drives a lot and one is alone there is a tendency to talk to oneself. Speaking personally, my conversations are never less than lively and engaging).

On these very pages of late I have commented on a drop, in my opinion, in driving standards. The sort of witless antics I witnessed in the rush hour frankly defy description, and it wasn’t just the odd isolated incident. Is it any wonder that the government and anyone in a high-viz jacket persecutes the world of motoring?

It’s a long list of lunacy and I expect you are aware of most of the misdemeanours but here’s just a few highlights. Despite the clearly ineffectual law the middle-lane sitter is still out there only at this time of day he is furious. I thought the days of headlight flashing were consigned to history but it is not necessarily so. The outer lane is the sole driving province of the really fast boys and not as you so naively thought just for overtaking.

Nipping in and out; lane switching as if there wasn’t a nice red Audi looming large in the mirror; ‘No, that’s all right Pal, you just switch lanes at the last second without indicating, you great steaming pile of merde‘, ran the conversation although some words have been changed. You need eyes in your backside to drive on our roads today. So, bad drivers, If you don’t want to end up in a queue of autonomous budget shuttles being controlled by the cold, dead hand of the state from roadside beacons then I suggest you get your collective act together a bit sharpish.

Anyway, where was I? Radio One. Well, call me an ancient relic of the Twentieth Century, but isn’t today’s music just so much content-less noise? Where’s the new? Where’s the innovation? It seems to me that pop music now consists of wishy washy singer/songwriters bleating on about their alleged miserable lovelorn lives or shriekers plucked from obscurity by raucous TV shows. When you think that the world-dominating Taylor Swift is supposed to be the epitome of excellence in music it must give you pause to worry.

Giving up on the radio I pulled in for life-giving coffee and, reaching for my phone, chose instead to take a trip down memory lane back to the days when pop and rock music always seemed to be springing something new and fresh onto the eager ‘record-buying’ audience. Some of the sounds I played were decades old and yet still had the power to immerse the listener. A lot of readers will not have heard ‘White Rabbit’ by Jefferson Airplane (and belted out by the saintly Grace Slick) or even, in fact, been anywhere near born at the time; but they will have heard of, say, the Rolling Stones, who can still fill huge venues even though they have to be led onto stage by someone wiping the geriatric dribble from their bewhiskered chins.

There are many names on my playlist who are as famous today as they were in their heyday. Great bands with great musicians, some long dead of over-stimulation and others who are still going strong, like Wilko Johnson. This is the music to drive by, even it it is on the M4 with idiots trying to kill you. Geoff Maxted