Saturday, 7 June 2014

A Thought about "Going Out for a Drive"

Stephen Bayley is a bit of a nob and has written an article in the Guardian about why we no longer "go out for a drive". He talks about how roads are too full and all that, which out in the sticks just isn't true.

But it got me thinking about how we did it as kids, and how I would even take girlfriends out for a drive somewhere. And I got to thinking about when I stopped and I think the reason that it stopped is to do with how we improved Sundays. To anyone who doesn't remember before the 90s, we had 3 TV channels, mostly showing rubbish, the shops were shut and cinemas and pubs had restricted hours. You could do some gardening or DIY, as long as you didn't forget something you needed as the shops were closed.

Which meant that if you just wanted to get out of the house, "going for a drive" was about all you could do.


A K Haart said...

When my dad was no longer able to drive I would take him out for a drive. He loved it.

Because we weren't going anywhere in particular it was surprisingly enjoyable.

Curmudgeon said...

Also the reduced social acceptability of calling in to a country pub for a pint.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Nowadays you can combine two of our favourite family activities - take a drive to an out of town shopping centre.

Rich Tee said...

Cars were more fun in the past. I mean, nowadays you are not allowed to open the windows because of the air conditioning, the sat nav tells you exactly where you are all the time, and the stereo is a high quality digital thingamajig with integrated mobile phone facility and possibly with videos for the kids.

Nowadays a car is its own hermetically sealed life support and entertainment system, isolating you from the outside world.

DBC Reed said...

Good spot: in the old days there were people sneeringly called Sunday Drivers who only used the car on Sundays generally to travel to "Unspoilt countryside"or to check out new developments.
The Preston by pass (the first motorway'58 )was crammed with Hillman Imps ready to break down when reaching 50 mph.
Pubs kept to limited Sunday-opening hours.
The change came with the Common Market.This artificially stimulated the growth of supermarkets by banning ('64) the Resale Price Maintenance which kept branded goods at the same price in the corner shops and big stores so encouraging predatory discounting.
Also the abolition of Schedule A
taxation made it de rigeur to Invest in your own Property so people wasted the weekends destroying the original features in old houses by doing D.I.Y. The advent of colour supplements made this worse by running articles on the lines of "Is your old place a bit of a dump?"
Anybody going for a drive now would be considered some kind of ne'erdowell.

The Stigler said...

AK Haart,
That's different. And understandable.

I remember going out for pre-lunch drinks. But we also had limited hours.

Yup. Or in my case, a small market town with shops that are open and have a nice coffee and cake.

Rich Tee,
You can switch all that stuff off, you know? Personally, I find it much more fun that I have a bluetooth radio that works with my phone. My kids can pick the music from the back seat.

We'll agree to disagree about RPM, but it's also the case that we were heavily restricted in terms of leisure, too. Cinemas had rather restrictive times (they could do 2 showings on a Sunday), pubs had limited opening times.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS: " pubs had limited opening times."

Exactly, and who was it put an end to that nonsense? And the idiotic idea of closing for a couple of hours in the afternoon? Or not letting certain big shops open at all?

It was John Major, who with the benefit of hindsight was the best Prime Minister in my lifetime.

Curmudgeon said...

It was Mrs T who brought in all-day opening in 1988 (although I accept it didn't extend to Sundays until about 1993 under Major).

My late dad always used to refer to "going out for a run" (in the car).

The Stigler said...


I think Major was far better than he's written up by history, but I think Mrs T did certain necessary things that others may have shied away from.

That said, liberalisation is often about the times. Things that there's either a demand for, or that people will accept.

Mark Wadsworth said...

PC, you are the expert on pub opening hours, so point taken. In response to Thatcher, I fucked off abroad in 1984 and did not return until 1993.

TS, I'm not joking about Major. Would Blair-Brown have simply let a reckless bank (Barings) go to the wall?

The Stigler said...


I'm not disagreeing with you much. I think he's one of the best two prime ministers in living memory (and I have plenty of criticisms of Thatcher).

Blair only lasted as long as he did because of the state of the economy after Major, and that they continued with it, and started to push as much spending as possible into expensive PFI schemes. Then he started borrowing. Brown was even worse and Cameron is just as tricksy as Blair.

Lola said...

Ah hem. When taking one's girlfriend out for a ride the motoring itself was not the main entertainment, or purpose. It maybe that nowadays there are more places available for horizontal refreshment. However I understand that there is a sub group of society that still sees motoring and parking a legitimate group (or even public) actvity.

Graeme said...

applause to DBC for managing to get 2 obsessions - support for RPM (obviously ridiculous) and the abolition of Sched A (borderline ridiculous depending on how the govt taxes the rest of the economy) - into one post. Sorry...that should be kudos h/t - the yoof.

DBC Reed said...

So getting rid of RPM, (solely to gain entry to the EU) has been an unqualified success has it?

Please indicate what good it has ever done in any respect.
Likewise abo of Sched A.

You'd think from all the support for the Thacherite plus era on here that we were living in an age of unparalleled prosperity, not a Homeownerist balls-up where the economy rests on property bubbles and real wages (and hence demand) are going down.
Does n't anybody watch Keiser?

Anyway I would have thought the advent of supermarket shopping (post RPM) and stayng home doing DIY (post Sched A) does help to explain the end of Sunday driving which is the relevant issue.

The Stigler said...


Yeah, but it's also the case that as kids, Mum and Dad would take us out for a drive.

It does make me wonder in these homeownerist days whether we'll start getting the thing that Tokyo has of "love hotels" where you rent a room for a couple of hours. When I was courting I'd have much rather have paid for that than trying to get it on in a Renault 5.

Bayard said...

"Nowadays a car is its own hermetically sealed life support and entertainment system, isolating you from the outside world."

Not if it's a soft-top.

"than trying to get it on in a Renault 5"

Still easier than the same activity in a Mini.

DBC Reed said...

Background: "Sunday afternoon at home" Hancock(1960) for how completely ,insanely ,boring the traditional Sunday was fifty years ago. Hancock goes in for some wishful thinking that joining the Common Market might liven things up by way of introducing racy European ways.

Graeme said...

So getting rid of RPM, (solely to gain entry to the EU) has been an unqualified success has it?

Obviously! otherwise we would still pay through the nose for shoes, books, spectacles etc and the opticians, shoe-sellers and bookshop owners would still drive Rolls Royces