Many have complained that we live in a society where our every move is scrutinized. Others embrace the concept arguing that if we aren’t doing anything wrong there is no need for concern. But Sophie Vaughan was minding her own business in traffic, in a traffic jam no less, when she took a sip from her Slush Puppy.
A sharp-eyed policeman on a bike spotted her actions and handed her a £100 fixed penalty for ‘driving without due care and attention.’ Perhaps he thought she would throw cold Slush Puppy in his face and felt he needed back-up, so he called for reinforcements and another three colleagues came to his support. Ms Vaughan will now have to go to court to have the 3 penalty points that came with the fine rescinded, even though there is no clarity in the law on whether eating or drinking while driving is illegal. The law merely states that ‘if you present a significant danger’ and if the police think ‘you are not in proper control of the vehicle.’ So it appears that this particular band of four officers felt that sitting in a stationery vehicle and sipping a drink rendered Ms Vaughan reckless.
But for the Met officer who was caught on camera, sipping at his drink while he was driving his patrol car there seems to be a bit of the pot calling the kettle black going on. I’m sure the Met would argue that police officers undergo stringent driver training before being placed in charge of a vehicle, so presumably being able to “sip-and-drive” comes into their training regime.
What happens if someone is seen chewing gum while driving?
Another ‘Big Brother’ moment occurred when it was mooted that pubs or restaurants should have glasses with lines marked on them that indicate how many units of alcohol are in the glass. The campaigners for this move appear to think that if the lines are prominently displayed on each glass then consumers will suddenly suffer a dose of ‘guilt and responsibility’ and only consume what the recommended plimsoll line indicates. Or consumers will decant their drinks into their own glasses or they will develop ‘line-blindness’ as a consequence.
If the move was introduced, would the Palace also follow suit at their State Functions? Would restaurants be able to order colour-coded lines on their glasses to match their décor? It would be a maître-d’s nightmare trying to get his table settings to look good in a Michelin-starred establishment with all those lines, logos and information printed on their finest crystal.
For hard-working stocktakers there was some cost-cutting good news from the USA recently. A 14 year old student in Pennsylvania has advised the USA Government how they can save $400m by making a simple adjustment to the way they print out things. He worked out and analysed that by merely changing the font on their documents from Times New Roman to Garamond the amount of ink saved on the less bulky font will save that massive amount of dosh!
Now if Jon Rutter and his professional team recommended a pub or restaurant change their menu fonts in order to be more profitable, it is unlikely to save them $400m – but the principle of using less ink on the fonts and not so many twiddly bits as decoration could reduce the number of times the print cartridges are changed, which mean savings. Stocktaker’s job done!
Or you could just use a blackboard – chalks are probably cheaper than paper and print cartridges. It would save more trees too.