On a soggy Saturday evening, my 10 year old son and I decided to ditch the idea of a much longed for BBQ night in favour of making our sausages the “normal” way and settling down to watch something on the television with our dinner on our laps.
Normally I am one of those people who demand that all meals should be eaten at the kitchen/dining table, with us all together – all gadgets are banned. This evening was different. My mother would recoil in horror if she knew we’d had a meal on a tray without begin bedridden with some dreadful bug, however, as Mother Nature had put pay to our al fresco idea, I decided to make an exception (and not tell my Mother!).
As we hopped through the 80 or so channels on offer we realised that there was “nothing on” except for back episodes of Friends, QI or Top Gear – with a 10 year old boy, you can guess which one won! I must confess that Top Gear is a guilty pleasure of mine as the presenters are utterly irreverent and still say and do things which they shouldn’t. They are like a triumvirate of overgrown 16 year olds, who should know better but don’t; for them it is all about having a laugh on wheels.
In the episode which we stumbled across, Clarkson, Hammond and May said they planned to do something for the public good for once. Some young soldiers had challenged the trio to a race with off road mobility scooters. Having discovered how expensive and restrictive or limiting those on the market were, the “lads” decided that they would build their own, hilarious, versions.
There are various regulations regarding mobility scooters which the Top Gear team took precious little notice of in their mad dash around town and country. However, they did highlight the problems faced by those with mobility issues. Being challenged by the soldiers, all of whom had prosthetic limbs, meant that the focus was on the younger generation rather than a mobility scooter being purely a mode of transport for people who were so old that they could no longer hold a driving licence. Mobility scooters come in 4mph and 8mph versions. The soldiers were using the more powerful 8mph scooters, whereas the Top Gear Team had created hybrids of a wide variety of motorised vehicles.
Causing chaos on the high street, the programme showed how difficult it must be for people who actually do have mobility issues to get around. People were very inconsiderate, almost forcing the team to move onto the road at points. There was a lot of tutting as they journeyed through the shopping centre. Entering and leaving shops seemed problematic while using a disabled lavatory was virtually impossible with a scooter. Many shops had displays in the aisles which meant that a normal mobility scooter user would not be able to access the aisles easily – naturally Clarkson and Co just knocked everything flying!
The second part of the show was typical Top Gear. Both teams had to complete a ridiculous cross country track using their scooters, with 2 of the 3 destroying their new creations in the process.
Regardless of what you think of Top Gear and in particular Mr Clarkson, the programme did highlight the plight of our wounded soldiers and those with mobility issues in a sensitive (yes honestly) manner. By putting this issue in front of the general population, who, let’s face it ,do not want to contemplate mobility issues; may at least be a turning point in how some people view those with mobility problems. So three cheers to Top Gear for doing some good (for once!).