Blogs | Dieppe seen by Peter Avis
20/11/2012 - 18:44

Danger lurks round every corner

Panneau <p>You just have to be terribly alert. Whoever you are. I read of the railway crossing guard in southern Egypt, who nodded off the other day when he was supposed to be controlling the level crossing. He controlled nothing. A train came along the tracks, hit a nursery school bus and KILLED FIFTY CHILDREN. A terrible consequence. No terrorist involved. Just a sleepy man at a country level crossing.&nbsp;And, being a Muslim, he is unlikely to have been drunk.</p> <p>The event made world news. Understandably so. And yet, in the Seine Maritime department, which includes Dieppe, the figure for mortal accidents on the road has SURPASSED FIFTY so far this year (it reached 48 in September). When you stretch a big number over time, it ceases to shock: it is accepted as a normal part of life. So it was "normal" to have last year 3,970 road fatalities in France and 1,901 in Britain. And if you are interested, the annual world total is estimated at 1.2 million. In France and Britain, excessive speed and drink are pinpointed as major factors in accidents.</p> <p>I sometimes have a dreamy recollection of a balmy afternoon on the island of Hvar in a Yugoslavia that no longer exists, when we had a lot of drinks with a Yugoslav couple, during a lunch that lasted two or three hours, Then I had to push my son Sean back in his pushchair to the hotel, along a stony path that skirted the beach below.</p> <p>I cannot remember ever being so anxious in all my life. Had I stumbled and turfed Sean onto the beach or into the sea, what would have happened? But, with an intensity that I have never had to repeat, I concentrated on the task and got the buggy (and its contents) back to the hotel, safe and sound. And then I collapsed on the hotel bed, with the world swimming around in my head.</p> <p>You always have to be alert. I realise now it should be forbidden to get led into long vinous lunches, even with friendly Balkan folk, when in charge of small children near roads, shoreland paths, level crossings, or the cliffs near Dieppe or Seaford.</p> <p>I now drive around Dieppe at 20mph (30kph) (occasionally, but not often, being hooted by a chap in a hurry behind me). And every time I drive gingerly round the corner by the Chamber of Commerce I think of the pedestrian who was killed on the crossing at that particular point. I find it incomprehensible that the accident could have been unavoidable.</p> <p>All places where people, individually or collectively, take insufficient care can create horror as stark as that created by politicians who claim to care so much. So go carefully. And let us make the politicians go carefully, too. They drink, as well: but most dangerously they do so at the font of power. And they launch wars all over the place, wars that kill mostly innocent civilians, wars that are mostly launched "in defence of Western values". (But, by the way, what are these Western values in the hands of warmongers and oppressors? What marks them off as being eternally superior to values that emanate from East or North or South?)</p> <p>So let's be alert. Don't nod off when you are in charge of people's lives. Keep off the excessive booze. Drive slowly. And close off the fonts of excessive power that turn politicians into killers.</p> <p><em>PS. If you want to add a comment to this blog, please click on the link below: 'ajouter un commentaire'.</em> </p>

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