traffic announcer -


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We left at 6.45 this morning, bound for work. It was early, but Michelle and I needed to negotiate the notorious Hindhead crossroads if I was to get to work by 8am. We were making good time, and the crossroads was remarkably light of traffic. Pleased with my timekeeping, I sped on up the A3.
“Well, chaos on the roads this morning,” the traffic announcer joyfully told me. “The A3 is closed due to a heath fire”, he added helpfully, just as I passed the last turn off point. I joined the back of the queue, smelt the burning wood in the air, and hoped that the fire brigade would pour cold water on the situation.
Three and a half hours later, we were 800 metres further on, and rueing the fact that I hadn’t bought a newspaper. The stranded drivers developed a bunker mentality, discussing in no particular order the weather, the police and the young kids who no doubt started the fire. Still, it did mean I could spend the time paying off ?125 of parking fines (“Ah, Mr Stacpoole, it’s good to hear from you again”) and the rest of my car loan. And enabled me to have a 6 hour working day! 😉

Traffic Jams and Cows

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Life can be SO unfair. Especially when it involves cows.

The BBC have published the 10 worst places to drive, in terms of congestion. Every morning and almost every evening, it appears I drive through the 6th most congested stretch of road. And, damn and blast it, every time I go up to Head Office (twice a week), I pass through the 7th most congested part.

I tell you this because yesterday, I was stuck in a 2 separate traffic jams for a total of seven hours. My weekly visit to Head Office started at 7am, and I whizzed through the 30 miles to Winchester, happy with the fact I was on course to be on time, a rarity recently. Powering up the A34, I scythed through the early morning traffic, my 2 litre engine performing at full capacity.

Then, disaster. 6 miles before the A34/M4 junction, and 17 miles to Head Office, I found a long queue of traffic. “Probably just weight of traffic,” I muttered hopefully, as I peered round the corner to guage the extent of the problem. I could see a long snake of traffic, heading over the horizon. I swore. I needed to be in the office by 9 for a meeting. I swore again. I phoned ahead to tell the IT department my dilemma. “Ah, that’ll be the overturned meat lorry at the junction,” Peter breezily informed me, much to his amusement. “Queues for 6 miles!” I mulled this over. “6 miles. Oh GOOD. See you at 11 then.”
So there I was. After about an hour of stationary traffic, salvation came as I remembered the new FHM magazine in the boot. 1 hour later, it was read cover-to-cover, and I began people-watching. An old couple to my left, the man’s hands still firmly on the steering wheel, as if at any moment we would start moving. Fat chance. In front of me, a foreign family were plainly regretting the moment they had collectively thought, “Ooooh, the A34, now THAT looks like a quick route.” Behind me, a young girl and a middle-aged, well-built man fought. My mind flickered to the news that morning, about the abducted girl and the american marine, but my thoughts were quickly dispelled when the girl got out, turned rapidly into a middle-aged woman, and started debating with the rest of us why on earth she got married to a “pig like” him in the first place.
I neared the junction at 10.30am, 3 1/2 hours after I started. The sight that greeted me made it all worthwhile. In what seemed like a Monty Python sketch, police officers we guiding each car around enormous, and very dead, cow carcasses, spread across the road. We weaved through, and I explained to the poor policeman what a “cow of a day” I’d had. He wasn’t amused.
AND THEN, as I was driving home that night, the traffic announcer kindly informed my of a car crash at the SAME JUNCTION. Another hour of my life, and another magazine, later and I was finally on my way home.
7 hours of travelling in one day. Working from home, anyone?