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Where have all the cars come from?

I am trying hard to get into the Christmas cheer this year and getting there slowly – the ritual of the erection and decoration of the Christmas tree helped of course. The weather refuses to behave in a proper winter fashion and makes me think it is still October.

And the Christmas music is not, yet, wall to wall, although it will be soon driving me up one I am sure.

What is keeping me away from the Christmas cheer most of all is the traffic.

I have moaned about the M25 before now. It is a bit of an easy target and it is the Road to Hell (aah, my Chris Rea love comes through, or indeed a giant satanic prayer wheel if the excellent and hilarious Good Omens – go read it, you’ll never look at a sherbert lemon in the same way again – is to be believed). Last year, in the run up to the Olympics there was a delicious period when the road had been widened considerably in preparation for the games and suddenly each journey seemed smooth and swift. Gradually, over the intervening months, the level of traffic has slowly crept up and up however, and the capacity has been filled. In fact, in over ten years of grinding out my thirty mile commute to work it has never been this bad, especially in the mornings.

The worse thing about it for me is not the time wasted stuck in a slow moving jam, or boredom – I’m a good radio and podcast listener so I can catch up with things I would otherwise miss. I can think about new short story ideas (though I am usually too tired to write them down when I eventually crawl into the office) or even (gasp) think about work.

Nor is it the waste of fuel (although that does concern me and the hybrid does help a bit).

No, the thing that I hate the most is what this does to me personally. When eventually I get out of the queue of traffic my level of patience with my fellow drivers is an all time low. I refuse to let people out (even the pretty girls) when normally it would be with a smile and a wave. I drive too close to the old dears who for some insane reason have decided to take the road at the same time as everyone else is, instead of sensibly waiting to a quieter time.

Finally, when I do get into the office or home, I am in a foul mood ready to snap the head of any unfortunate who may stray into my path before hot cup of tea or a stiff gin can begin the transition away from the malicious, twisted troll I have become and back into my preferred incarnation of bemused puppy.

I was thinking about it this yesterday as I stomped into the office, slammed my bag down and aggressively plugged in the laptop. I am still thinking about it now, having had the cathartic experience of writing this. In the end, with anything you want to change, you have to really want to do it and make some effort.  At least I can recognise the problem, and will try and stay away from becoming a road ogre in future.

But I am looking forward intensely to the days when our situation means I do not have to do this commute every again.

For now I have to rely on happier things; on a lovely wife, great friends, a snowman made out of gingerbread and marshmallow for lunch and the knowledge that, once again, The Christmas Duck will be tied helplessly to the top of a tree for a few weeks. And tied pretty tightly poor thing; the journey home wasn’t great either.

Still, the tree is now flashing (if leaning somewhat worryingly) and  after a morale boosting watch (OK, quote along) of The Princess Bride (and yes, it is a Christmas movie too, which we only realised last year, Fred Savage’s bedroom has all sorts of Christmas decorations up) and I’m finally feeling a bit more seasonal.

Time to dig out my sleigh bells I feel (not joking, my lovely wife is rolling her eyes as she reads this…)

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