I have seen the future, and it is bright. Mostly bright yellow, but a little bit of green, pink and orange as well. ‘Tis the season to be visible, and this country has grasped the opportunity with both hands. Not since the 80s, when the trend of lumo clothing came, saw, and slinked away, has so much been brought to the attention of so many by so many.
High visibility clothing used to be the reserve of builders, policemen, and scholar patrols (are you still allowed to call them that? Or is it Learner Patrols, or Pupil Patrols these days?). Then, sports people joined in the fun. Cyclists, joggers, walkers. Even people walking their dogs out in the evening have taken to wearing reflective vests. And I’ve seen dogs with reflective collars, and hi-vis leads. But even that sort of makes sense, in a world where those sort of people get knocked over by cars rather too regularly.
But a few weeks ago, there was a case of a little girl walking home from school on a country road. She was on the verge, and got run over by a reckless speeder. Clear-cut case of the driver being at fault. However, in the court case that followed, the driver’s insurance company was given leave to appeal – because the girl wasn’t wearing high-visibility clothing. And therefore, she can potentially be considered to be at fault. Which is absolutely ridiculous – what stupid decisions like that will lead to is everybody in the country wearing these ludicrously garish outfits whenever they leave the house.
But just when I was getting depressed about the direction the UK is taking on this, I discovered a news report about a new law in Australia – the Commonwealth Work Health and Safety Act. Among many other things, it requires all service personnel to wear bright yellow safety vests while on the job. However, while agents from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian Defence Force are exempted, they forgot to mention people who work for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service in the exemption list. These, in case you didn’t work it out for yourselves, are the Aussie equivalents of James Bond. It is now illegal for undercover spies not to wear high-visibility clothing while doing their job. It certainly limits the cover stories they can use – bankers, investment managers and media moguls are likely to be out of the question. I can see it now – turning up at a flashy venue in an Aston, and climbing out in a bright yellow tux.
“I admire your courage, Miss…”
“Trench…Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr….”
“Builder. Bob the Builder”
Ah well, perhaps things aren’t quite so bad over here yet. And after all, it does dramatically increase the quantity of light on offer during the winter.