My family were always members of the AA. When their motorcycle patrolmen passed they would see our badge and salute. I would salute back. Great excitement.
Last night on the way back from the airport we had a blow-out on the A1 so I called the AA out. I have paid my subs every year since I was 17 and have never had cause to regret it. Nowadays the system works even better because mobile phones mean they can get back to you and tell you how long help is going to be.
I've always had the theory that AA men have a great job because people are always pleased to see them. A few years ago I met a retired AA man in a ferry queue in the Western Isles and expounded my theory to him. He wasn't so sure. He'd taken early retirement after years working the M1 in South Yorkshire. One day he'd had a nervous breakdown at the side of the road. Just collapsed into tears in the middle of a job.
Standing by the A1 (M) for half an hour last night just a few feet away from millions of tons of speeding metal - in the same week that a couple of children were killed trying to cross a motorway - I have to confess to some sympathy. Once you're out of your car and standing there looking at it, motorway traffic shows us at our maddest and most malign.