The basics of speed dating and Daewoos

11th April 2008 at 01:00
Around 32 years ago, perhaps almost to the week, my love affair with motorised transport was first consummated.

It was one month before my 16th birthday. I stood astride a motorbike, facing down a dirt track.

Opening the throttle, I lifted my feet onto the rests and felt for the first time the Hand of God at my back. This may seem a bit of an overstatement, especially as the bike was a 50cc Raleigh moped that had to be pedalled to engage the engine but, unless you've ridden one, you can't really say, can you?

I still get a kick out of driving and working on cars though, in the case of the latter activity, I only enjoy doing so when there is no pressure of time.

All the time I am conscious of the effects on the environment of motor vehicles. A recent collaboration with Road Safety Scotland has also brought home the harm that can be done by and to young drivers - if it needed bringing home to someone who until recently taught in a rural area.

Now my daughter has taken the first steps to becoming a young driver herself. She's had lessons from Kenny the patient instructor, and is now ready to have a go in a family car. Except that the family cars are all automatics - were all automatics.

I've supplemented the fleet with a little green manual Daewoo. Compared with my ABS-ed EBD-ed, air-conned Kia, it is pretty minimalist. My Kia is a 1.8 litre. The Daewoo is a 0.8, rounded up.

Bowling along the M9 spur, it has a certain back-to-basics charm, despite the feeling that to overtake something you would need to fill in a form a week in advance.

We recently ran a workshop called "physics speed dating" (find the experiment you want to spend the rest of your life with). Participants spent three minutes at 20 experiments, the majority of which used unsophisticated back-to-basics resources.

Whatever it was they liked about physics - the intrigue, the simple beauty, the magic of an apparently vanishing test tube - the teachers found it in these activities as readily as they would have in ones using state-of-the-art apparatus. Let's hear it for cardboard, string and little green Daewoos.

Gregor Steele took his Daewoo to the bayou but the bayou was dry.

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