Blog: I know my place


I’M sure you’ve all seen that very famous comedy sketch featuring the late, great Ronnie Barker, Corbett and John Cleese parodying the ingrained British class structure – and how the middle class Barker took great pleasure in looking up at the managerial Mr Cleese, while looking down at Corbett the worker. Poor old Ronnie Corbett seemed to take the brunt of it – being working class and vertically challenged, he came away from the famous sketch with a stiff neck as well as knowing his place in society…

Well, after a week or two of commuting 60-miles a day in my reasonably priced Lada Riva 1200, I can tell you I know exactly how Mr Corbett feels… In a nutshell, trod on and looked down-upon.

But, do you know what – the experience is proving rather fun and highly amusing. No, I’m not going all masochistic, but am simply enjoying seeing life from the underclass that so few of us enjoy these days. Because of our short eight hour days, I’m going to work and coming home in darkness, and yet I still get to see first hand the effect the humble communist car has on other road users.

Acceleration is pathetic, but at the same time, it will cruise (noisily) all day at 70mph (in a way), and as a result, is pretty comfortable keeping up with the hustle and bustle of the A605/A14 rat-run. However, I’ve been finding that although it’ll perform with the best of them, other road users (and generally those driving repmobiles) take it as an affront if my humble Lada passes them. Being dark, I have the advantage of stealth – but enjoy predicting a now all-too familiar pattern exhibited by these drivers.

Here are some of the more easily predicted behavioural traits…

I come up behind, they move over, they look across and realise what I’m driving, let me pass, then swing out and overtake me immediately…

Another one is the single carriageway joker, who will ride my poor car’s bootlid all the way along the busy stretch of road – even though it’s impossible to pass, and I’m going the same speed as everyone else.

And not forgetting the joys of the roundabout cut-throat merchant – the one that sees a Lada is coming, assumes it’s going slowly and pulls out forcing me to brake – or the lane changer, who will carve in front of me and fill the 20-foot gap in front of me left in heavy traffic.

Ahh – I hear you say – this is what motoring is like in 21st century Britain – I should get used to it and stop whingeing. Well, for one, I’m not whingeing – it’s rather funny, and two, it happens a damned site less when I’m in the Saab Aero… I did get it in the Rover 75, though – but mainly only from Passat and Jaguar X-type drivers. Strange that…

Nahh I suspect that in the UK, the way you are treated by the majority of road users depends on what you’re driving. And let’s face it, losers drive Ladas, right? Perhaps – but what worries me is that now Rover’s a thing of the past (for now, possibly), will its drivers be increasingly thought of as backing losers, and will we get treated increasingly badly by everyone else?

I sincerely hope not, but the signs aren’t promising.

Gawd bless the class system…

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

1 Comment

  1. I get the same when driving our 1.0 Corsa! Bought it because it was stunningly cheap and rather enjoy the basicness (is that even a word?) and cheapness of the experience. It’s a nice reminder of how driving used to be.

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