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Not waving but drowning (again)

Sadly, it looks as though I’m in danger of gradually acquiring an unofficial new status as the Rust’s motoring/traffic correspondent.

Yesterday my main/sole purpose was to drive to the south coast for the weekend, a journey that in ordinary circumstances would take between 90 and 120 minutes depending upon the traffic conditions. In the actualité it took as near as dammit seven hours.

Let me explain.

The expedition was complicated by the fact that I had first to travel from south-west to south-east London to collect my companion.

As planned I set off at 8.30am – stopping off on the way to shop for provisions for the weekend plus fuel for my car – before travelling around the South Circular to Bromley.

You’d think at that time of day that you’d be towards the back end of the morning rush hour but yesterday progress was funereally slow for three reasons – the amount of traffic on the roads was staggering, as were both the number of traffic lights against me and instances of roadworks under way en route.

Initially I was unconcerned. The Bromley leg was going to take as long as it took, I was listening to the radio and I was working to no particular deadline. Although I’m as prone to frustration and/or road rage as the next person, I like to think I possess the ability – when faced with an unavoidable traffic situation which I can do nothing about – to ‘switch off’ and simply go with the flow.

Up to a point.

By the time I had reached Dulwich – and yet another seriously large set of major road works – I had begun to wonder whether some Supreme Being somewhere was deliberately trying to test my patience.

This was on the back of my ‘adventure’ on Monday by train to Chichester and back for lunch which round-trip did not conclude until nearly 7.00pm thanks to a train ahead breaking down, having to make two unscheduled train ‘changes’ and finally some prat throwing themselves under a train at Twickenham causing blanket train cancellations for two hours upon my intended line home.

Was this simply what life in Britain has become in 2019 under the influence of Brexit and the proliferation of snowflake, PC-obsessed, ‘woke’ Millennials – or had Someone just got it in for me?

Having picked up She Who Must Be Obeyed after an intended brief reunion with her hosts that virtually turned into a full-on neighbourhood ‘coffee morning’, we embarked upon the final leg to the coast.

After crawling to (and then around) the M25 to the M23 turn-off for Gatwick and then Brighton, we encountered more traffic works – about fifteen miles’ worth of three lane traffic with a set speed limit of 50mph – with speed cameras widely advertised, causing everyone to keep rigidly to that limit.

Being of a vintage at which my bladder seemingly fills at a rate of about 20 miles to the gallon, I found it necessary to stop off three times en route for ‘pit stops’.

As we approached the last conurbation before turning off on the country road to our destination Her Indoors then decided she wished to make some soda bread for the weekend.

This necessitated us making a detour to a local supermarket to buy the ingredients – another half hour lost – and so we finally pulled into the drive of our country pile at 3.15pm … just in time to beat my overall ‘seven hour journey’ milestone, take all our clobber inside, make a cup of tea and settle down, fire up the television and watch the Cheltenham Gold Cup live on ITV.

To compound the tone of the day, my £50 on Thistlecrack to win went south at precisely nine minutes into the race when he was unceremoniously pulled up.

After this run of bad luck, something’s gotta change soon!


About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts