While this is

Old Bike Australasia - - WHAT'S ON -

a rel­a­tively mod­ern phe­nom­e­non, the prob­lem of inat­ten­tive mo­torists is as old as the mo­tor ve­hi­cle it­self. When the Galvin Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany per­fected an in-car wire­less re­ceiver, mar­keted as the Mo­torola 5T71 in the early ‘thir­ties, sales boomed and at­ten­tion that was pre­vi­ously fo­cussed on the road ahead wan­dered as driv­ers thrummed their fin­gers to the mu­sic, fid­dled with sta­tion fre­quen­cies and be­came in­creas­ingly un­aware of their sur­round­ings or their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to other mo­torists. This led to the coin­ing of an­other term, “Tran­sis­tor Tantrum” as tem­pers rose among non-lis­ten­ers and traf­fic snarls bur­geoned. In Bri­tain, Bob­bies were in­structed to act with po­lite­ness and dig­nity and sim­ply tap on driv­ers’ win­dows and en­quire, “Ex­cuse me sir (or madam). Is there any par­tic­u­lar shade of green you are wait­ing for?” The prob­lem be­came so acute, par­tic­u­larly in ma­jor ur­ban ar­eas, that au­thor­i­ties sought ways to dis­cour­age the prac­tice by util­is­ing squads of of­fi­cers em­pow­ered to fine or even ar­rest of­fend­ers. The prob­lem was to be able to iden­tify cul­prits in or­der to mount le­gal pros­e­cu­tions. Sens­ing an op­por­tu­nity, Sir Car­ruthers Spag­forth or­dered the con­struc­tion of a mo­tor­cy­cle specif­i­cally de­signed for this pur­pose. For­tu­nately there were many ware­houses full of failed Spag­forth models that were suit­able donors, and en­gi­neers set about build­ing a se­ries of pro­to­types which for mar­ket­ing rea­sons were called the Spag­forth Spy­mas­ter. These car­ried pho­to­graphic equip­ment, re­straint de­vices and sirens for at­tract­ing the at­ten­tion of mes­merised mo­torists. How­ever in or­der to gain the nec­es­sary com­mand­ing view into mo­tor car cock­pits, a lofty seat height was re­quired, ne­ces­si­tat­ing the use of leg ex­ten­sions, or stilts, by the rider. It fell to none other than Spag­forth works tester Edgar Jes­sop to demon­strate the Spy­mas­ter to var­i­ous coun­cils, and he was dis­patched on a Euro­pean tour for ap­point­ments with key per­son­nel in­volved in ur­ban traf­fic flow man­age­ment. While the Spag­forth per­formed its task with only mi­nor catas­tro­phes, a new prob­lem emerged as driv­ers be­came con­vulsed with laugh­ter at the sight of Edgar and his ma­chine, and traf­fic be­came grid locked. This was only solved when foot po­lice­men told the hys­ter­i­cal driv­ers Dutch jokes to stop them laugh­ing so they could move their ve­hi­cles. Un­for­tu­nately Edgar’s tour came to an abrupt halt when he failed to no­tice a low bridge in Brus­sels and top­pled from his ma­chine, which was promptly flat­tened by a fol­low­ing steam roller. The re­mains of the ve­hi­cle was gifted to the city coun­cil and used as a bill­board.

Edgar Jes­sop on the pro­to­type Spag­forth Spy­mas­ter, suit­ably dressed in the uni­form of the Polizei Ham­burg, threads his way through scores of mes­merised mo­torists in the Ger­man city.

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