One of the aspects about modern life that most often irritates me is the sheer numbers of people that exist and then on top, of course, the knock-on effects thereof.
[Having opened with that sweeping statement, I perhaps need to qualify myself. I am not addressing the issues of the global size of the human race, either as it is now or as it might be at some point in the future; or of the logistical problems of producing enough of whatever nature in order to be able to feed and water everybody going forward one hundred years or more; or indeed of what we are going to occupy ourselves with when robots do all the manual (and other?) work that ever needs to be done and we humans are left just to entertain ourselves. Such things are a little too deep for the Thomas brain-box to deal with.]
I’m just referring to the practical aspects of life as I seek to eke out an existence guided by the general principle that I don’t wish to bother too many people … but also not have too many people bother me either.
It dawned upon me about 9.30am, when I nipped across the road to buy my daily newspapers, that the BBC television morning show weather forecaster was not wrong when she announced that this week the delightful weather of the past few days was about to change abruptly and that – from today (Tuesday) – the outlook was going to be dull and rainy for most of this week.
She had got the forecast correct, but had sadly been out by one day – it was already pissing with rain by mid-morning yesterday.
As a result I deliberately returned inside and battened down the hatches. Later, in the afternoon, as the result of a telephone call I was obliged to travel across to Putney to leave an item with my brother.
There was little room for manoeuvre in the task at hand because he was off upon an errand within 24 hours and needed to take said piece of equipment with him. I had erroneously driven away with it in my car upon the last occasion I had been to the location he was about to depart for and it needed to be returned.
There was nothing for it but to set off for Putney at about 4.30pm – in the still-falling rain and (inevitably) the evening rush-hour, which in this day and age seems to begin about noon and continue on until 7.00pm.
I duly set off upon my little errand, snug in my vehicle and listening to the gentle hum of the afternoon show on Radio Five Live.
I’m not going to bore my readers with a blow-by-blow account of my odyssey. Suffice it to say that in the event a there-and-back journey which – in normal, easy traffic conditions – might have taken me 45 minutes in total (or indeed 8 or 9 had I been conveyed each way by a private whirly-bird helicopter hired for the purpose) actually took me the best part of 1 hour and 53 minutes.
There was nothing particularly extraordinary about the circumstances that caused this debacle – we’re primarily talking about a combination of the weight of traffic, the ridiculously short-time sequences and logistics of the traffic lights system all over south-west London and a veritable explosion of roadworks and traffic fouling-up obstructions that seem to have sprung up without any advance warning in the past few days.
Oh, all of the above … and on top, of course, the tendency (whenever it rains) of everyone in London to abandon going anywhere on foot, or indeed public transport, and take to their cars in an instinctive lemming-like desire to avoid getting wet (or is it getting wet in the company of a steaming crush of fellow human beings?).
Earlier in the day, attending a dry cleaners shop and having to stand in frustration whilst an otherwise inoffensive but densely-thick middle-aged couple took nearly ten minutes to check in a couple of items (discussing as they did so the weather, their recent holiday to Hungary, what their grandchildren were up to and where they were going later in the day), I managed to fend off an unusually strong instinctive loss of the will to live only by agreeing with myself that, were a small nuclear device to suddenly vapourise said couple, it would be cause not the slightest loss to the history or the world but in fact do the majority of us a half-decent favour.
Last night, having emptied my by-then painful bladder and then made myself a bowl of soup as a bed-time meal, I regret to inform my readers that I had decided that if a medium-sized nuclear device were to drop upon south-west London (by happy chance leaving the area around where I live untouched), taking out say four to five million inhabitants and indeed all their possessions in the process, the world might be a much better place.
At last I am finally coming to understand where Mr Putin, the Russian president, may be coming from with his current foreign and diplomatic policies.