Whatnot Wednesday

Fellow blogger Biff has done another Whatnot Wednesday and invites other bloggers to respond by likewise posting a bit of misc trivia. Here’s my contribution. (To further reinforce my caution in this morning’s post about name-calling.)

A Belisha beacon, consists of a lamp with an amber globe sitting atop a tall black and white pole, marked pedestrian crossings in the United Kingdom and other countries historically influenced by Britain. The flashing light warns motorists to watch for pedestrians crossing.

It was named after Leslie Hore-Belisha, the Minister of Transport who in 1934 added beacons to pedestrian crossings. The first one became operational on July 4, 1935. These crossings were later painted in black and white stripes, and have become known as “zebra crossings.” Since then, Belisha beacons have been replaced by WALK signals for pedestrians.

Not long after Belisha beacons were set up in London the King and his Queen were enjoying a pleasant drive through the city in the royal limousine. They passed an intersection where one of these lights had been installed.

“Pull over,” King Edward instructed their chauffeur. “I want to test one of these crossings and see how well they actually work,” he told the Queen.

The chauffeur parked the car a short way down the street and the King got out. He walked back up the street to the crossing and about five minutes later he returned. As he climbed back into the car he was chuckling.

The Queen looked at him curiously and asked, “What’s so amusing?”

He grinned at her. “One of my loyal subjects just called me a doddering old fool.”

the red queen

flexes her guillotine
toady or kneel

I may be daft, but BUCKLE UP!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning is DAFFY.

This isn’t a word Canadians use much, unless things have changed. My dad might have said DAFT, which is more British and would have reflected his army years. DOUGH-HEAD was his favorite. CRACKED, NUTS, or BONKERS would have been more common words here when I was young.

I’m not up on what slang expressions Canadian teens use now, but have heard adults use the words A DIM BULB, DITZY and the seriously insulting BRAIN-DEAD. As a rule I try to avoid these words; Jesus, in the Bible, warns against calling anyone a fool, or other harsh derogatory name.

Epithets aside, I don’t think I’m daffy, but you could call me over-cautious. A safety nut. I’m passionate—you might even say a fanatic—about some things.

The Daily Addictions prompt this morning is RIDE. Well, if you ride with me, you buckle up.

Years ago when we lived in Ontario and our daughter was a school girl, we did a lot of carpooling, together with the other parents. One day I was picking up the carload of  children after school 3:30pm. Planning to get them all to their homes safe and sound, as they piled into the back seat, I reminded them to “Be sure and buckle up your seat belts.”

To further impress their young minds with the importance of this bother-some safety device, I added, “Because if we’re in an accident, you’d go flying through the windshield.”

A girl about nine years old turned to the boy beside her and said, “My dad has a name for people like that. He calls them worry-warts.”

I had to smile. Yep. Then I thought, If I didn’t know any more than you do right now, I wouldn’t be a worry-wart, either. Cars didn’t have seat belts when I was young, and I never thought twice about it. When car makers began installing them, most people just didn’t bother buckling up.

Ignorance really is bliss. But when I was in Grade 7 a car full of teens from our city went to some function at a neighboring one and on the way home they had an accident. We heard that one girl had flown out the front windshield and skidded some hundreds of yards along the pavement on her face. So not pretty!

One young mother I met later in my teens was really pretty in her youth, too, until their car skidded on black ice one winter evening and hit a huge maple tree. She was thrown through the windshield, then fell back in again over that jagged glass. That ripped off her nose and cut her face badly. Doctors did what they could for cosmetic repair, but the scars were still there.

An accident my mother-in-law talked about involved a young couple, back in the days before infant car seats. She was holding the baby in her arms when they collided with another car.  Police came to his parent’s house to tell them the sad news that her son-in-law and daughter had been killed.
“What about the baby,” the mother demanded.
“There was no baby in the car,” she was told.
“There WAS a baby!”
So they all rushed back to the scene of the accident and saw a little bundle of cloth caught on a strand of barbed wire fence some distance away from the accident. The passenger door had opened, the baby—wrapped snugly in its blankets—had been thrown out from the force of the collision. Its blanket caught on the fence and there it hung, thankfully unhurt.

Yes, some people think I’m daffy, but I worry when people don’t take safety seriously. Safety devices have been developed because so many people have been killed or maimed without them. Our present society has benefited from the hard lessons learned. Seat belts, collapsible steering columns, more visible signals, padded dashes and head rests, running lights, air bags, infant car seats, etc., have made driving so much safer than it was when I was a teen. Thousands of people have paid for these improvements with their blood. “Lest we forget.”

I also fret over the pure foolishness some people indulge in, like stunts and practical jokes with the potential to go very wrong. When I was in Grade 7 some students asked our Home Room teacher if we could play April Fool’s Day jokes on him, but he shook his head. “My sister died as a result of an April Fool’s Day joke,” he told us, “and I want no part of those kind of pranks.”

In Ontario we heard the story of one young couple, how on their wedding day the groom played a practical joke on his bride. As she went to sit down at the reception meal just to be silly he pulled the chair out from under her so she fell on the floor – and cracked her back. He pushed her around in a wheel chair from that day on. What an awful price to pay for a “funny” moment!

I see a teen doing stunts or wheelies on motor bikes and I shudder. One false move and that bike could scoot out from under him, he’d be lying on his back on the pavement with at least a big headache, maybe even a broken back. Spending your life paralyzed from the neck down would be a terrible price to pay for a moment of show-off glory.

Okay, I am a worry-wart. I’ve lived long enough to see, or hear about, “the best laid plans of mice and man” going sadly awry.