Cyclists in busy urban areas may have to sound a bell almost continually as they cycle along under government plans to force them not only to have bicycle bells fitted, but to use them to warn pedestrians of their approach.
I was going to use this post as an excuse to point out that pedestrians who get run over by bikes should have bloody well looked before they stepped into the road, and to pose the sarcastic question – how long until someone gets fined for noise pollution after ringing their bell constantly?
But instead, I was reminded of David Prowse, a true giant of a man. If there were more people like him around today, there wouldn’t be any need for such stupid legislation.
David Prowse, for those of you not in the know, was the very tall man in the Darth Vader suit in the first three Star Wars films. His greatest role, however, was the Green Cross Code man, who taught a generation of British schoolchildren how to cross the road without getting squashed.
I’ve never been squashed while crossing the road, so I can confirm that the Green Cross Code Man’s advice really does work.
Anyway, enough of spuriously trying to link this to cycling. I’m not really interested in making a point about cycling. I want to reminisce.
You see, I had the very great honour to meet David Prowse once – he came to my school when I was about eight years old. As you can imagine, to my eight year old eyes, he was by far the tallest thing I’d ever seen. (Although, if pressed, I probably would have admitted that he did look a bit silly in a green and white suit). I was far too shy to ask for his autograph, but I do remember him telling me very nicely how to cross the road correctly.
That was nothing compared to the highlight of the day, though. We were allowed to go outside, and gawk at his car. And what a car it was!
Prowse was the owner of a very shiny, very low-slung red Porsche, a vision of futuristic metallic coolness the like of which had certainly never been seen before in dull old Bridgwater. And, to top it all, his license plate was DARTH 1.
Upon mature reflection, I’ve no idea how a man so tall managed to get into a car so small, but that will have to just remain one of the great unsolved mysteries of my life. To the eight year old me, David Prowse was a God. And, true to my god, I always (well, occasionally) stopped, looked and listened before I ran out into the road.
Despite all this, I can completely understand why George Lucas chose to get James Earl Jones to do a voiceover of Darth’s voice. You see, I got to hear him talk when he taught me to cross the road.
For a frighteningly tall giant of a man, David Prowse speaks with a remarkably soft Bristolian burr. And, with the very greatest of respect, hearing Darth Vader utter the immortal words…
Use the force, Luke, moi luvver.
… would not have had quite the same impact.