Blaise Tapp: Shifting gear for a new pace of life in the slow lane

For most of us, the ones without a yacht and a trust fund, life is too busy. Family, work and the social lives of our kids are what occupies the majority of our time

By Jane Chippindale
Thursday, 21st July 2022, 1:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 21st July 2022, 1:38 pm

Blaise Tapp writes: While being busy is what gets me up each morning, I’m finally doing what countless teachers, mentors and former bosses have implored me to do over the past four-and-a-half decades – I’m slowing down.

This new, slightly ponderous, approach to life has been particularly beneficial this past fortnight, when the Mediterranean temperatures have left me seriously considering taking up siestas.

There’s absolutely no need to rush in a heatwave!

SLOWING DOWN: Blaise is considering taking siestas

Perhaps the clearest evidence of me dropping a few gears is how I drive my car these days. Although I don’t wear a flat cap and leather gloves, I’ve recently been accused of driving like a grandad. All I need is a box of mansize tissues on the parcel shelf and a bag of Werther’s Original in the glovebox. Apparently.

Although I’ve never been a boy racer, I like to think that I’m driving far more sensibly these days, sometimes to the frustration of speed freaks, who tend to drive their Audi or BMW within inches of my little runaround’s rear bumper.

I wouldn’t mind if I was driving dangerously slow but when I display caution on the road, it’s usually because the speed I’m doing feels right for that particular stretch of road. The roads around where I live are narrow due to vehicles parked on either side, which means I see no reason to go any faster than 20 miles per hour, even though the speed limit is 30. This does get on the wick of some fellow motorists but one of the key benefits of getting older is that you tend to care a lot less what others think of you, especially Herberts whose motor has a fin on the back and a subwoofer in the boot.

Road safety enthusiasts will tell anybody who’ll listen that the designated speed limit on any road isn’t a target that must be hit, never mind exceeded, which is one tedious mantra that I’m happy to adhere to.

I don’t mind admitting that I’ve become one of those community warriors who waves and mouths ‘slow down’ to drivers who go past my front door at 30 and above. I never fully catch what they mouth back but I think it ends in ‘off’. It’s only a matter of time before I start donning a high viz jacket and pointing a hairdryer at traffic.

I’m not sure if it will ever happen in England but I would welcome us following the example of the Welsh who last week changed the default speed limit from 30mph to 20, much to the chagrin of some, who argue that the reduction in the limit will increase congestion, an argument I don’t follow.

Road safety campaigners point to the data that shows the chances of somebody surviving a collision are seven times higher at 20mph than they are 30mph. Then there’s the fact that stopping distances are almost halved when the limit is reduced to 20mph.

Now that I have a quarter of a century of motoring under my belt, I’ve reached the point where I tut and shake my head at speeding motorists, who must be made of money when you consider what putting your foot down does to fuel consumption rates.

There are so many reasons for us all slowing down a little.