When the previous mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, decided to get rid of the Routemaster double decker buses and replace them with continental style, articulated bendy buses he forgot the reason why we had double decker buses in the first place. I say "forgot" - the chances are that he never knew in the first place, so, just in case anyone else was wondering the reason was simple.
British roads - and particularly London roads - were just too small. What was needed was a vehicle that could carry seventy or more people while being able to negotiate the multitude of tight, narrow corners and streets that proliferate in England's capital city. Consequently, they had to be short and narrow - by bus standards - but they could be tall as most bridges allowed clearance for a horse drawn carriage with a driver sitting atop carrying a driving whip in the upright position - hence double decker buses and thus an icon of Britain was born.
The vehicles were, of course, designed and built in Britain - for two reasons. Firstly, because we had the industrial base and technical know how to do it then and secondly, because British designers understood British requirements and nowhere was this more apparent than in car design.
American car designers were able to build large cars which suited their wide, straight roads. French car designers tended to concentrate on soft, long travel suspension to make driving over rutted cart tracks which proliferated in rural France less arduous and German designers concentrated on over engineering everything to the nth degree as they always have done because Germans are obsessed with such things.
In Britain, we made cars to suit British roads and this meant - on the whole, small and nimble. However, since globalisation we no longer have such diversity and choice. Everything is made pretty much for the some fictional ideal that only exists in the world of advertising. So the BMW 3 series is now more than seven inches wider than it was in 1992.
It's hardly surprising that more and more minor scrapes and accidents are happening on British roads with such large machines roaming around the countryside. Add on the fact that many of our roads have been narrowed to accommodate painted "cycle lanes" and are clogged with parked cars - many of which park on the pavement making it difficult for pedestrians to get by - and you can see why these accidents happen.
It also explains why few of us bother to put our cars in our garages anymore - they just don't bloody well fit! My garage was built in the seventies and, while it may have been wide enough to fit a Cortina into and still allow space for the driver to get out, the only way I could have got my Alfa in was if I climbed out of the sunroof (which it didn't have, so I couldn't have done).
However, since the Alfa was totalled last winter by a brainless idiot who thought (or didn't think) that just because he had a four wheel drive he could drive two yards behind my car in snow and ice and still be able to stop in time (he couldn't), I've been making do with a 1989 Ford Escort which fits in the garage nicely.
It also explains why parking spaces seem a lot smaller these days than they used to - and why my Alfa, despite me never personally having put one dent, scratch or mark on it - was covered in various dings and scrapes from other people opening their doors carelessly in car parks.
Actually, going off at tangent for a moment, that reminds me of something which sums up Britain today. I remember years ago when my mother and I returned to her ancient and battered Ford Anglia sitting in a car park in Maidenhead to find a note under the windscreen wiper. It had been left by a gentleman who had inadvertently clipped the bumper of the Anglia while reversing his car out of the space beside it. The note apologised and gave the gentleman's phone number along with an offer to pay for any damage.
To be honest, the bumper was already crooked and dented and it was hard to see any new damage, but when my mother called the gentleman and said that there really was no need to pay he nevertheless insisted and consequently sent a £20 postal order to my mother (it was a long time ago and that was a lot of money then). We didn't get the bumper fixed, but it did go a long way to paying for the family holiday that year!
It was symptomatic of those times - when people owned up and took responsibility. I've never had anyone own up to damaging my car in a car park despite the fact it has happened on at least half a dozen occasions. I think that is symptomatic of our times.
Anyway, back to my original point - the fact that one size doesn't fit all. That not only did we used to have cars designed specifically for the needs and requirements of British roads, but we also used to have laws designed to suit the British legal system; we had regulation to suit and benefit British industry; we had rules that made sense for British businesses and we had societal institutions that were tailored to meet the needs and requirements of the British people, its customs, traditions and quirks of constitution and culture.
Just as continental bus design doesn't suit British roads and cities so do a lot of EU inspired regulations, directives and laws fail to meet the needs of Britain. The countries of Europe are as diverse and different as chalk and cheese and it simply isn't possible to have a one size fits all approach to them all. It's stupid to even try, but it's even more stupid to insist it can work when common sense and evidence of your own eyes tells you it doesn't.