Tuesday, May 15, 2007


It has been pouring with rain in Shropshire for the last 48 hours, so my journey to work this morning along the M6 around Birmingham was even more pleasurable than usual. The spray, the ├╝ber-jams, the general time-wasting – an excellent, character building start to the morning!

On the principle that every sword has two edges, sitting in the stationary traffic however does allow time for rumination about one’s fellow travellers, and two or three things cross one’s mind.

Firstly, have you ever noticed how, when driving along a Motorway, than everyone who drives faster than you is a Maniac, and everyone who drives slower than you is a Cretin? Mmm, yes, so have I. And also, it doesn’t matter whatever your speed is, it always applies. Uncanny.

Secondly, is there some law which says that, in spray ridden conditions, anyone with an M, or prior, registered car must drive at 30 mph faster than everyone else, showing, under no circumstances, more than one headlight?

And another one. I must have missed the bit where the recent legislation insists that people whose number plates are arranged in those hilariously funny ways which just about allow you to work out their names from them, as long as you realise that a 4 is actually an A, a 7 is a Y, and a 6 is a G, MUST use a hand held mobile phone at all times when the spray is of such a density that they can’t possibly see where they’re going.

And, lastly, who precisely operates those eye-wateringly expensive airborne signs which now grace the inner two lanes of our Motorways these days. They must go on a course run by the Sybil Fawlty School of the Bleeding Obvious. You have just spent the last 25 minutes edging your way between J9 and J8 of the M6 in first gear, and to help you with the final piece in the “What’s going on Jig-saw” we get “Queue – Caution”. Ah, now I understand.

The other really helpful piece of advice this morning was “Delay at J5”. Now there are only 5 Motorways, (M’s 6,5,40,42,54) within spitting distance of the sign you’ve just read, so that’s particularly clear. And don’t think they mean it’s the closest Motorway to the sign – Oh No.
Last week, as we sat in the jam near Walsall, wondering whether we could get round the sweep in the Motorway to Birmingham without needing an involuntary “Comfort Break”, we learnt to our immense relief (if that’s the right word) that Bristol was only 80 minutes and 82 miles away – presumably by train. What clown thought that was of any interest, at just gone 7am on a wet Monday Morning, to anyone within 50 miles of the sign?

This all follows the much cleverer game they play where, when they do advise you of an impending delay, they clearly have to arrange to show the information for the first time, on a sign JUST past the last junction where you have any chance of getting off the Motorway to take any meaningful avoiding action. There is obviously an Advanced School of Motorway Sign Writers somewhere, where a key part of their course is to study, hone and perfect the timing and location of these messages to maximise their power of irritation to us Gaderene Swine who swarm lemming-like underneath them.

Why don’t they show us the time, the temperature, the football results, the cricket scores, the Lottery Numbers? Something really useful. Actually, I’m not sure about the Lottery one – “Man Dies in Motorway Smash, seconds after becoming £8M Lottery Winner”. Perhaps not.

Anyway, that was quite cathartic and I feel much better now, and I haven’t even got onto the Trucks overtaking on Dual Carriageways yet. So I’m going to have a large cup of coffee and cancel the Samaritans on Ringback.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I particularly enjoyed the Gaderene Lemmings mixed metaphor.