Driving eh. I used to do well over 40,000 miles a year when I was in business (a lot of it the daily 4.5 hour commute from Buckingham to C London and back) and, believe it or not, pretty much enjoyed all of it. I’ve always been a guy who loves to drive. Until the last year or so….
I know I’ve hit 60 and my eyes aren’t so good and maybe reflexes are a little less sharp. But it’s more than that. I mentioned in an earlier posting that the recent drive home from Italy was cool until we hit the UK and the relatively short leg from Dover to London took 4 long hours. Then last week-end we drove up north to visit our families. We set off at 10am and arrived at our hotel in the Lune valley no less than 8 frigging hours later with just a 20 minute break en route at Warwick services for a pee and to buy some sandwiches. It was a nightmare. We heard from that dozey reporter on Radio 2 – Sally traffic? – that there was a problem between junctions 16-18 on the M6 with a 30 minute delay likelihood. Not so bad we thought. The traffic jam started at junction 16 alright but it actually persisted all the way through to junction fucking 34. That’s all the way from Stoke to Lancaster!!
Now I know both events happened on a Friday which isn’t the best day to travel but come on it’s getting ridiculous on our motorways. They keep talking about creating a northern business powerhouse but if you were a Chinese business magnate and were looking to locate your manufacturing operation somewhere in the UK, why on earth would you choose say Preston or Skipton? It takes so many hours to get there from the capital and more importantly to transfer your goods down to the largest most affluent market in the UK and beyond to the continent. You’d just think bruddy herr and position it in some place like Ashford. Our traffic infrastructure’s becoming exhausted and it’s going to kill the north I fear unless they expand the road system as well as get HS2 built asap.
And it’s not just motorway traffic conditions which are bad. Driving around London today from Brentford over to Twickenham to pick up daughter R then over to Staines to cash in her birthday vouchers at Debenhams/HMV then home took us over 4 hours. We’re talking less than 40 miles here. And the driving standards you come across are just unbelievable – people cutting in, pulling across you at junctions, breaking late, lane hogging, guys doing wheelies on their scooters and motorbikes past schools and along busy commuter routes (like the Chertsey Rd – I swear) and worse. This is London the most sophisticated vibrant city in the world, people say, and yet we’ve got worse traffic problems than Mumbai during rush hours. And some bloody idiots who must have bribed their driving test examiners in order to pass. I’m starting to rage at inconsiderate drivers; they are the pigs of the road.
Sigh. We’ve either got too many cars or too few roads. Or both. But trust me it’s not as bad as this in France or Germany. They’ve been developing their infrastructure for years, even in bankrupt dear old Italy. If we’re going to make a serious go of operating away from and competing with the Common Market then we’re going to have to resolve our bloody traffic issues soon. Who’s the new Minister of Transport? Dunno but let’s hope it’s somebody really smart and, dare I say it, driven.