Let me take you back a couple of days now, dear readers, to Monday morning. I’d like to ask you to picture the scene: As per usual on a Sunday night, I’ve slept badly. I’ve tossed and turned in my bed, watching time tick by as the hour gets closer and closer to alarm call, getting more panicked about how little sleep I’ll get every minute… My alarm has finally rung and I’ve dragged my body into the shower, covered it with an approximation of clothes, and made ready to leave the house. Something makes me hesitate to grab a hat, gloves and pashmina – perhaps the memory of standing stranded on the verge of the M40 at rush hour, or perhaps a premonition of things to come…
Clare collects me early, and informs me that we need to stop at the retail park for petrol. As we leave she gets in the wrong lane. “Something just made me want to go home!” She says.
That’s two premonitions, neither of which we acknowledge.
All is going well as we pootle along the M40.
“I don’t want to jinx us, but…” says Clare, unwilling to actually comment aloud on the unusually quiet Monday morning traffic.
“I know.” I cut her off, frantically tapping my forehead. “Touch wood!”
Three miles from Junction 10, our usual exit, we grind to a halt. The traffic news informs us that the M40 has been closed between Junctions 10 and 9 southbound due to an accident. It is now 7.35am.
At 8am I call the office to explain the situation. We’ve an ETA on sat nav of approximately 9am, but we’ve been stationary with the engine off for almost half an hour now.
At 10.30am I call again. We’ve moved 0.6 miles in the last 3 hours.
Over the next hour I get steadily more and more enraged by the rude and ignorant, suited and booted, BMV and Audi drivers who continually zip past us along the hard shoulder, all the while tapping away at their Blackberries, then indicate to be let in. We get into a “them and us” situation, with the inside lane moving bumper-to-bumper, just to make a point. I audibly cheer when a lorry driver decides to pull over to take his break, cutting their freedom jaunt short. I also wind up Clare, who is concerned that my disapproving glares might escalate and prefers a “don’t catch their eye” approach.
By 11.30am my anger has subsided into despair at the state of the world, the lack of camaraderie, the offensive belief that some people might be more important than others. “What happened to the ‘Blitz’ spirit?” I lament, “What happened to “we’re all in this together”?” Clare looks at me sympathetically and laments my naiivety.
By 11.33am we’ve reached the junction. A traffic report reveals a further two accidents on our route. The sat nav has finally picked up on the delays, and gives us an ETA of 3.30pm at work.
We turn around and go home.
For all the road rage, the anger, the irritation and lamentation at the state of the world, do you know what p*ssed me off most about the whole day?
I dragged myself out of bed for that!