Cyclists demand more consideration

THE war between the cycling fraternity and those motorists who think they own the road escalated last week when the cyclists demanded they be given more consideration by car users.

Not a new argument, and one that will no doubt come up again and again as our roads get busier leading to even greater tensions in the two camps.

As a motorist and an occasional cyclist I have sympathy for both sides of the divide. On one hand I believe the two wheelers are under threat most of the time from car drivers who think only they are entitled to use the road.

On the other as a driver I am concerned that the cyclists seem to be just a little paranoid about all others who use the highways, regarding themselves as above the law of the land.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the two strongly contested issues it would seem the word respect does not figure in the debate, which is sad, as without an appreciation of the position of others there can be no solution.

On a different tack I watched with fascination the BBC’s tribute to 617 Squadron in which it evoked all kinds of memories of a film of the raid on Germany featuring the the famous bouncing bomb.

The “Dambusters” was made in the mid-1950’s, but most accurately captured the spirit of that night on May 15, 1943, when the RAF dealt a telling blow on the Germans, shaping the future of the war, not least in the war of words as both nations strove to gain supremacy.

The impact was not lost on me, even some 12 years after the event I was totally taken in by the magic of flying, and as a consequence joined up in the hope of emulating my hero Guy Gibson the leader of the raids on the German dams, more fool me.

But if the propoganda was a long time hitting home on a raw, clueless teenager from the Scottish Borders, the reality check was quick to hit me, as within a matter of weeks I had worked out there was to be no moonlight raids in magnificent flying machines, resulting in a long painful exit from my poorly chosen first career.

A hard lesson, but one from which I was to learn, taking me into a new episode in which I spent much of my waking hours giving career advice to young people.

But while I was gullible enough to be seduced by the words of the day, I was equally mesmorised by the music that was specially composed for the occasion.

The stirring march written by Eric Coates still haunts me, though I have long given up on the idea of signing up. It never was a good idea as has been testified by millions of young people over the ages.

Even as I write this closing sentence one person will have died in armed conflict somewhere in this troubled world.

But if I was frustrated in the mid-50’s, fortunately it all fell into place in the early 60’s when I was lucky enough to meet a man of the cloth, Tom Calvert, who turned my life around, guiding me into the path of working with young people in the rough and tumble of Edinburgh’s down town Craigmillar.