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Prince Philip’s Diversion

It was jolly decent, even brave, of Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, to try to divert our attention from Brexit by pranging his car.

A nice try. Sadly, though, it failed.

Still, for a couple of days, we had something other than May, Johnson, Rees Mogg, Tusk, Barnier and Juncker on our television screens. Even Trump disappeared.

They’re all back now, of course, barking and braying while British politicians attempt to untangle that giant political mare’s nest of their own making. The spectacle reminds me of the scene in one of the Hobbit films in which Frodo Baggins is lured into a huge spider’s web and becomes wrapped up in a cocoon as the spider licks its lips at the prospect of a tasty meal. For Frodo read Theresa.

As for the poor old Duke of Edinburgh, he’s now in the doghouse too, no doubt at the palace, but certainly in the press. What – his wife and journalists demand to know – was he thinking, at the age of 97, driving a Range Rover, a powerful machine, on the public roads without a minder? And worst of all maybe not wearing a seat-belt?

“Can’t stand the bloody things,” the Duke probably fumed, by way of explanation. “They’re another assault on our liberty. What did we fight the bloody war for?”   He then promptly – actually the next day – defiantly took to the road again, in a brand-new Range Rover, once more, without fastening his seat belt.

“Good for him,” some people – most of them of a certain age – declared in support. “It’s not us oldies who cause most of the accidents.” But on reflection he hasn’t done us senior citizens any favours. His crash – which broke the wrist of a passenger in the other car – has thrown a spotlight on the issue of when we should call driving a day. Already, we have to reapply for a license on reaching 70. Next thing you know, they’ll be insisting we take a new physical driving test and have our eyes examined – perhaps even our heads.

There is, after all, a powerful incentive for getting us off the roads. Given that we’re the biggest demographic group in the land, right off the bat, banning us would lighten the nation’s traffic by a few million cars. The government would lose a big chunk of revenue, of course, but it could soon make that up by raising road and fuel taxes. And since most of us are driving imported cars, it would do the nation’s balance of payments no end of good. That’s not to mention the positive environmental impact.

In my household, my wife does all the driving anyway, and much of the time in a Range Rover. She’s not 97, but she is of an age when reapplying for a license is mandatory. But maybe that’s the answer: in a household with two pensioners, only one should be allowed to drive.

For my part, I hope to be driving at 97. Somehow I don’t think driving will be my main concern. I’ll be happy to be still breathing at 97.

By then the problem will probably have been solved anyway, since we’ll all be operating driverless cars capable of bumping into each other without any human interference, giving us more time to spend on social media.

Speed the day, I say.

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