Saturday, December 04, 2010

Rooks, hoar frost and adverts

click photo to enlarge
When "Frozen Britain" (copyright - BBC TV) is in the grip of a "White Hell" (copyright - unimaginative and overworked journalists on, it seems, every newspaper) movement becomes more restricted than usual. The paths, where they exist in rural areas, have become packed snow which has turned to ice: minor roads ditto. Major roads have largely been kept open, but fresh falls and freeze-thaw make stretches periodically difficult or impassable. Consequently the radius over which I have chosen to roam during the past week has been less than two miles, the odd shopping expedition by car excepted. And the amount of time I've spent indoors has increased. This doesn't have to be a bad thing because it directs you to activities that need doing or that you would like to do. It's also a time when you take your pleasures where you can, and when you find fun in unexpected places.

Over the past couple of days I've had a few good laughs at the advertising pitches that the snow has prompted the manufacturers of 4X4 vehicles to make in the press and elsewhere. Did you know that Toyota manufactures the only such vehicles ever to have driven to the North Pole? I didn't, but once I'd read it I had to be physically restrained from going out immediately and buying one. I mean, it stands to reason that a vehicle able to do that MUST be able to cope with anything that the British weather can throw at it. Then there was the Land Rover Freelander 2 advert with the subtext "don't you wish you had one of these in this snowy weather" and the line "anywhere is possible". That last one had me wondering. Anywhere? Now I know that the school-run is possible because I see them on it. And I also know that parking on the pavement is possible because I have to step round them (and resist the temptation to walk over them). And many 4X4 drivers (owners of Freelanders included) can drive on grass verges and churn them up - in fact many seem to see it as a duty, so I know they can go there too. But anywhere? How about into the average sized parking space? In fact, the press reported that one Lincolnshire driver this week found that his Freelander didn't stop him leaving a snow-covered road and ending up in a drainage ditch with tragic consequences. Anywhere? Not really.

The truth is, manufacturers of such vehicles know that many people's (especially men's) capacity for self-delusion knows no bounds, and the ability to go to the shops at any time, including on the two or three days of the year when that might not be possible for two-wheel drive cars, is all the bait needed to make people part with a sum that can buy two or three perfectly good and less destructive vehicles. Of course none of the adverts mentioned the massive redundancy involved in these thirsty, heavy, over-engineered trucks dragging around excess metal for the other three hundred and sixty days of the year.

I was mulling this over as I photographed the rooks at the top of the hoar-frost covered churchyard trees in the village the other day. The easy grace with which they slipped from their perch, then glided and slowly flapped to their destination made me wonder if, one day, man will be able to move about as easily, and with as little impact on his environment.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 300mm
F No: f5.6
Shutter Speed: 1/500
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On