10 November 2022
Electric cars and other hazards.
By Chin Chin
It really was a very nasty moment. I was driving along the Euston Road when I commented to my wife that with all the electric vehicles on the road it was much harder to hear traffic than it used to be. “Ah”, she said, “the trick is to wiggle your ears”. Now, she is a much better driver than I am so I take her hints seriously and began thinking about my ears and trying to move them around. It is by no means as easy as you would think so, not wishing to admit that I was unfit to drive on modern roads, I decided to practice, one ear at a time. At the first traffic light I focused on the left ear, contorting my face with a rictus of effort, as I tried to move it up or down. There was no progress at all so then I tried forwards and backwards, rather as the elephants move theirs as they cross the African bush. Not only was it futile but it was nearly a disaster because I failed to notice the lights changing and nearly got butted by a heavy lorry coming up behind me. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I had made a mistake and that, being right-handed, I should have begun with the right ear. At the next light the grimace was on the right side of the face which being next to the driver’s window attracted the attention of driver of the taxicab alongside.
“Just pull over, mate, and I’ll call an ambulance.” He looked surprised when I gestured that it was unnecessary. Honestly, the people you meet on the roads these days! But for me it had all the makings of disaster. If your eyesight drops below a certain level you have to inform the DVLA and the same goes for any other physical attributes necessary for driving. Did I need to tell them that I couldn’t wiggle my ears and so might not hear the sound of approaching traffic? Maybe my driving days were behind me or I would have to have some expensive and difficult operation. After all the issue was a birth defect. As far as I knew I had never been able to wiggle my ears at all.
It was all very depressing, as you can imagine, but the safety of the public always comes first and so I got my wife to drive on the way back. I watched her carefully to study her ear movements but they were obviously too slight to detect. Reluctant though I was to broach the topic it clearly had to be tackled so I took a deep breath.
“All right,” I said at a traffic light, choking slightly on the words in my anxiety, “I want to see you wiggle your ears slowly so that I can learn to copy you.”
“What, like this?” she replied, and turned her head from side to side.