Monday, 22 October 2012

Hitching in Hearts

When I was a spindly youth of 18 or so, one of my chief modes of transport was hitch hiking. I travelled all over the country via the simple expedient of standing by a roundabout or motorway slip road and waving my thumb. The iconic hitching spots were as 'well thumbed' as a pre-satnav road atlas - Hendon Central, Crick, Gailley Roundabout, Scotch Corner, Watford Gap. Once I won a rag week hitch hiking race by thumbing non-stop from London to Fort William and back with just a brief cup of tea with my Uncle Jock for respite. I also hitched around the coast of Ireland and halfway across France. I was mad, me.

This practice seems to have all but died out in the 21st Century. Presumably today's spindly youths all possess their own cars or are chauffeur driven around England by harassed and over protective parents. Which is a shame because hitching is such a brilliant 'Green' concept.

Imagine how many empty car and lorry seats travel our roads every day - millions of passenger miles paid for in fossil fuels to transport fresh air. Hitching gets people about for nothing and the driver gets entertaining company and a bit of interesting chat to while away the miles - it's win-win!

I suppose today's lorry drivers - sorry, logistics facilitators- would have to run potential passengers through a 15 minute risk assessment and legal waiver agreement before letting them enter the cab. It's health and safety gone mad you know.

17 comments:

Z said...

Al spent his gap year hitchhiking round New Zealand. But come to think of it, that was in the last century.

Martin said...

These days, it's more a question of insurance policy rules, than health and safety, Rog. Don't know how we reached this point. I can't imagine it's all down to litigious lift-seekers.

gabriellebryden said...

It's illegal to hitchhike in Australia - changed the law about 25 years ago I think because of murders etc.,

Sir Bruin said...

I used to do a bit of hitching when I was a callow youth. like yourself, I went across France. wouldn't do it now though - too many nutters about.

Nota Bene said...

Yes too many murderous drivers of Morris Oxfords for hitch hiking to be allowed..I have many a happy memory of hitch hiking, shame The Boy won't have the same experience

Tim said...

I think there must have been a scam which enabled one to extract beer money from transport costs to and from uni, because I didn't much like hitching but did loads of it. Never got murdered, not once.

Mike and Ann said...

I too hitchhiked a good deal in my late teens/early twenties. Wouldn't want my grandchildren to, though. Is the danger real, or mainly percieved?

Sir Bruin said...

Mike - I believe that the danger is as real as it always has been. However, the likelihood of it maninfesting itself is a matter of perception. *This is a politician's answer as it is accurate and tells you nothing that you did not already know*

Mike and Ann said...

Steve; when you put up for election please be assured of my vote. My reasoning being that you cannot do any worse than the present shower of dishonest incompetents, and, thinking about it, you will probably do a great deal better (especially in the area of who is allowed to use the roads - see our exchange of a month or so ago.)
Regards, Mike.

Pat said...

My sister and I hitchhiked whilst youth hostelling and felt really wicked. I wouldn't be happy about my grand-daughters doing the same in this day and age

broken biro said...

I hitchhiked for the first time at the age of 44 - just a couple of miles down the road but it was late, I was exhausted. The man who picked me up told me off the whole way about how dangerous it was. I accidentally dropped my phone in his car and had to go round to his house to pick it up, and explain to his wife how it got there! It all put me off a bit. *blushes*

Zig said...

oooo you were all so brave, I'd never have dared ... perhaps it's something I shall take up in my new all risks life that I'm going to have just as soon as I can be bothered.

Rog said...

Thanks all - that went without a hitch.

dinahmow said...

Blimey! It's illegal here? I didn't know. Clearly, lots of others are still blithely ignorant 'cos I see hitchers most days.
Best hitch? being picked up by a chap in a Bentley(or perhaps it was a RR) which had a bar in the back and he invited us(me and the other bridesmaid going to friend's wedding!)to help ourselves.He drove us as far as the racecourse where he had a horse running and we caught a bus from there.

Rog said...

Di: Please tell us he didn't have a silver shell suit and 3 big medallions round his neck.....

dinahmow said...

No, he was dressed casually(but bespoke)and I recognised him from news photos.Lovely fellow.

mig bardsley said...

Hitching highlights, being given cold sausage rolls and hot tea at the police station in Southport at 3am on a snowy night and sharing a roundabout with a person whose dungarees thankfully concealed all that his hands were doing at 5pm somewhere along the A51.
Hitchkiking is everything it's cracked up to be - well it was in the eighties. It's just a sort of racial memory now.