Express & Star

Andy Richardson: Is it legal to put sunglasses on headlights?

I bought a car. It made me feel grown up.

Drivers were dazzled... and not in a good way

Though, in truth, the inner child remains so close to the surface that I could live to be 101 without truly growing up.

The car, however, ticked a box, did a thing, smashed a vacant slot on a life-long ‘to do’ list.

Bought for two reasons – it was black and it had a nice badge on the bonnet – it was two of the things I love most: frivolous and pointless. Hurrah.

Here’s to doing nice stuff before it’s too late and we’re too old.

Of classic vintage – because there’d be no chance of ever being able to afford a new one – it was also of classic design.

And that’s been a thing for as long as I can remember. Classic VW Beetle. Old Skool.

Not the more modern curvy thing. Check. Classic Mini. Old Skool. Like a box with four wheels. Check. White Ford Transit, so that I can eat cheese rolls and listen to REO Speedwagon with the windows down.

Perfect for Sunday morning trips to the tip. Check. Check. Check.

And so I moved upmarket and bought something long and black, with sleek curves and more style than a panther. It had leather seats. Fun. It had a boot big enough to hide a large pony.

Though the chances of ever needing to hide a large pony, are, I admit, relatively slim. It even had a sheepskin rug in the passenger seat footwell so that She Who Must Be Obeyed can take her shoes off and imagine she’s in a living room – a living room with a steering wheel and gearstick next to her, admittedly, but you get the drift. It was comfy.

It also had lights brighter than the sun.

And so I soon found myself being dazzled by angry motorists driving in the opposite direction whenever I went out at night.

The first time I took it out, to review a restaurant in deepest darkest Shropshire, was notable for the train of traffic that dazzled me so brightly that I thought I’d been teleported to the London Palladium.

Or beneath the floodlights at Wembley. Every man, woman and large pony on the road that night was sure I was being the world’s most inconsiderate driver and blasted me, like a follow-spot on an A-List singer. I wasn’t. I’ve just got really bright headlights.

I got used to it as the weeks past and developed trigger finger on the beam – trying to show the angry drivers heading towards me that I’d just got really bright headlights and I honestly-to-goodness wasn’t being discourteous.

It just made them more angry.

As though they imagined I’d got a triple beam. “That guy’s driving with his beam on,” they seemed to think.

“And now he’s turned on the beam overdrive. What is he? A travelling floodlight.”

It failed. I failed. The car sat on the drive. The lights were turned off.

We went out last night. An hour there, an hour back. Country roads. Take me home. And we took the sleek black thing.

We travelled out in the light, came home in the dark, and She Who Must Be Obeyed decided we’d avoid the usual stress and make our brighter-than-the-sun journey fun.

“Sweepstake,” she said. “How many motorists are we going to annoy so much that they turn their beam on.”

She went first. 15. No chance, I thought. It’s a relatively short trip. It’ll be 7. There aren’t that many nutters on the road.

And so the rubber hit the road and before I could say: “What’s the prize when I beat you?” I’d infuriated my first motorist.

Not good.

We hadn’t even left town. The street lights were still on.

What would happen when we got onto the country roads, where they’d really be able to tell the difference.

I’ll tell you what. Flash. Flash. Flippin’ Flash. Like a model in front of a phalanx of paparazzi, we rattled past seven in less than five minutes and soared to 18 by the time we’d hit home.

So if anyone could help, I was wondering this. Is it legal to put sunglasses on headlights? Asking for a friend.

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