Sometimes I think we have our priorities wrong.
As a pedestrian, I feel mildly narked I’m kept waiting at a crossing as vehicles are prioritised and fly merrily on their way. (Well, let’s be realistic. With the state of Bristol’s traffic, they crawl at the pace of a tortoise that’s just been discharged from the vet’s after a double hip replacement.)
It’s as if a ton of metal, spark plugs, fan belts and a hundred odd years of invention is more important than a messy old heart muscle, a pair of wheezy lungs and millions of years of evolution.
That’s when I’m a pedestrian, of course. When I’m riding in the bus or on the rare occasion I’m in a car, I’ll swear at the red lights as much as the next traveller.
It’s sad how we prioritise the young over the old, too, holding up the bloom of youth, our days of acne and dangerously high hormone levels, as the pinnacle of our lives from which the only way is down. We don’t revere the experience that the elderly have, the wisdom, the sheer bloody mindedness, tenacity and old school opinions that can make them so interesting to talk to – if a nightmare to share a Christmas with.
Of, course, I’m increasingly feeling this way as I grow into what other people would term ‘older lady’ status. I feel I have a truck load of knowledge and experience to impart to younger people, especially my son – just don’t expect me to recall any of it quickly.
The reason for my PRE – RAMBLE (a rambling preamble and a word I just made up, but will now use more often) is reading.
You see, I don’t want reading as a wonderful, engaging, enlightening pasttime to go the way of the dodo and the ra-ra skirt. I want to encourage young people to continue reading and not turn to gaming and publishing photos of their genitalia on social media as ways to pass the long hours before the sweet release of death. To do this, may I suggest prioritising readers by installing
You know, like cycle lanes but for the less physically fit. Special paths (with a drawing of a book on the ground in lovely, luminous paint, of course) would be made extra smooth, to avoid trip hazards – no raised curbs or wonky paving slabs here. Also, readers will automatically have right of way when crossing a road, so they don’t even need to look up from their books, no longer having to choose between life and finding out whodunnit.
You might need an especially adapted Sat Nav (with a lovely, soothing voice – probably Stephen Fry) to stop you from veering off into the river / flower beds / oncoming traffic, though.
We could extend the idea to make the top deck of buses a Quiet Zone for readers, installing book rests and overhead lamps at every seat and a lending library at the back, so you could borrow a book from one bus and when you’ve finished, leave it on the next bus you travel on.
I think these ideas might make us love the written word just a bit more.
What do you think? What innovations would you bring in to encourage people to read?