"Comedy always works best when it is mean-spirited" - John Cleese

Author John Corby also writes as "Bulldogge" for the British Canadian newspaper.

A Farthingsworth of Tall Tales from Blighty's Fameless Blog
Newsflash from New York (no, not that one!) |  Are the British better drivers? |  The Story of the Telephone Kiosk |  Drinking Nelson's Blood |  Screaming Jelly Babies |  Flying to the UK is very dangerous! |  Brits to drive on the right |  Who hung the monkey? |  Upper class virgins |  Double, double trouble |  What a Lovely Morning for a War

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Keep Left - and Squeeze

Have you travelled from Canada to the UK recently? I just returned from a 3-week trip to the UK myself. It's my duty, as proprietor of Orangeville's British consular office to check that all is well in the Queen's homeland from time to time.

And yes, thanks for asking, the weather was terrible. A typical July in Britain - bloomin' cold and wet!

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I rented a car to travel around Britain. A nice Vauxhall Vectra - comfy but way too big for Britain's narrow, winding byways. We drove over 2000 miles and remembered to stay on the wrong side of the road for most of the trip.

But, why did Britons originally decide to drive on the left hand side of the road? That's an interesting question with an intriguing answer. Britain, as we all know, is an ancient land that has attracted many foreign visitors. Over the centuries Britain has been visited by thousands of vacationing Viking, Norman and Roman armies. Owing to the bad behaviour of these foreign chaps they were intercepted by British knights carrying broadswords. Traditionally, swordsmen wielded their weapons with their right arms. Therefore, in order to engage their opponents they would need to pass to their left.

I could also tell you that British roads were built so narrow because they only needed to be wide enough for two horsemen to pass each other. That would be just too implausible if, like us, you had negotiated the tiny B-road we found while travelling just outside Bristol. It wasn't wide enough for two horses to pass each other and yet, somehow, we got that Vauxhall Vectra to squeeze between the roadside hedges.

Actually Britain's roads were pioneered by the Romans who built them just wide enough for an invading war chariot. So, the next time you drive over 'ome, thank the Italians for the state of Britain's roads!

I'll be posting more news from our UK trip over the next few days - including why I made the wrong choice of airline for my flight from Toronto to the UK.


  1. Anonymous11:21 PM

    The UK drive on the left because of the very reason you mentioned. it was the rest of the world that changed. The roads are made to keep Yanks and Canandians out, so used to straight boring road, Roads designed for the big cars that they made for their big wide arses. P.S I'm not English just an Historian.

  2. Anonymous9:34 PM

    I call B.S. on the last post. Only people who drive on the left call people from the United States "Yanks." I'm not saying you are wrong, just that you may as well be honest about your identity.