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As Time Goes By: Traffic Jam

Eileen Perrin recorded these musings while sitting in a traffic jam 18 years ago.

"There seems to be a hold-up."

A good time to write if you like writing and you're the passenger. Time to switch on the car radio if you're in charge of the stationary vehicle.

My.my...look at those words ...the words we've used - vehicle, meaning a conveyance from one place to another. Stationary - staying in one place without moving. Stationary vehicle - it's a contradiction in terms.

You have a licence to drive a vehicle, but that doesn't mean you can drive that vehicle along the roads without hindrance. The jams on the promised-to-be-widened M25 are frequent and horrendously long.

The accidents caused after, if not before the jam, when some frustrated driver has tried to make up time by crossing into the fast lane, or needing a rest from concentration, now drifts over to the left to slow down a bit. That's when they happen, often as not.

When you pay your Road Tax there's no receipt, neither is there any contract laying out what you will get for your money. You know it goes to road maintenance. So, when you pay you should realise that this makes you a helper in creating traffic jam congestions. Roads being repaired are sometimes narrowed down to one lane.

Traffic jam. Those two words; what do we understand from them?

Traffic means to deal or barter. You offer your car to the road, and although the road is there; but, being maintained, it means there is no guarantee of access to travel freely along it.

Jam - a crowded mass - but this jam is more like 'jam' in jamboree, where all sorts from all over meet to play silly games and shout at each other.

Jam yesterday, jam today and jam tomorrow, never without some sort of jam.

Now, look up from your writing and amuse yourself by reading signs on the vans and lorries - Express Courier Service - Rapid Delivery - Same Day Service - Fresh Food for Marks and Spencers (thank heaven for refrigerated containers) Speedbird Auto Parts. Hmm ! - well I expect they'll all get there eventually.

So, we appear to be moving up but only inch by inch, still not knowing the cause of our delay.

Trapped, helpless in the pumping effluvia of a multitude of exhausts.

However, thinking we are alive at least, and not stuck in a motorway tunnel breathing carbon monoxide.

Now we are listening to the news. A spiel of ‘tail-backs’ being reported from all over the land.

The main news starts and as we listen we realise that the rest of the world has gone on turning. Car sales are on the up in spite of the recession, and there's another delay in the Channel Tunnel. So much for bringing back the trains and all that.

We unwrap a boiled sweet to suck and long for a cup of tea, thankful we went to the loo at the last Service station.

Let’s turn off the radio.

To pass the time we start an interesting - well, desultory conversation on where to go for our next holiday.

Disagree with a cruise, - that always comes up - I say that wouldn't be all that came up.

We semi-settle for the Lake District.

Moving at last, I put away my writing pad, eject the rainy day tape of ‘Pavarotti in Hyde Park’ and click home the soothing tones of the Dance of the Sugar-plum Fairies.

I close my eyes and blot out the moving cavalcade on each side and hope that we have seen the last traffic jam for today.

I think my husband is wonderful. What does wonderful mean? It means ...and as I fall asleep I intend to look it up when we get home.

I did. You look it up.

It means remarkable, accomplished, a perfomer of miracles, and the rest covered more than half a page in my dictionary.


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