This evening should have been an early-ish finish for me. My last meeting was scheduled to end at 8:15pm. By 9pm, I should have been at home, catching up on athletics on the SkyBox. Unfortunately, somebody had different ideas. Leaving the office at 6:10pm, I had just shy of an hour to get to my 7pm appointment. More than enough time…. normally.
The A420 was my planned route. It’s the smallish white road from just above the C in Chippenham which runs across via The Shoe and Marshfield. Well, I travelled about 400 yards down that road before stopping. We seemed to not be moving very fast – make that, not moving at all. Considering myself a rather clever individual, I did a U-turn and decided that I would returned to the A350 and go along the M4. Why oh why did I think that this was a clever idea? I found myself on the slip road for the M4 and – too late – realised that the traffic was gridlocked.
Bearing in mind that there is a motorway service station just a mile from the junction I had started from, imagine my irritation when 20 minutes later, I had not quite made it to the level of the service station! The wonders of mobile phones (and thank goodness, in car chargers) ensured that I could entertain my friends, Mr FWL, Ma and Pa FWL and members of the team with my increasing level of irritation (sense of humour bypass and in fact, bordering on lunacy at times) with the ineptitude of the Highways Agency. I even called them to ask about their policy regarding when traffic is STOPPED from joining the motorway, to avoid exacerbating the problem. There apparently isn’t one…. and the frustrating part was that the young man in the call centre could only tell me that the incident was between Junction 16 and 18 of the M4. Well, I could tell him more than that and surely, the Highways Agency was in attendance?! Ever heard of GPS???
It took over two hours to see a Highways Agency vehicle driving up the hard shoulder, in which time I had travelled just 4.2 miles. There were many infuriating factors during the voyage of ten miles between Junction 17 and 18. Number 1: the overhead stanchions continually flashing to inform us that the speed limit was restricted to 40mph. In my dreams! Four miles took two hours! Number 2: there was no sign of the lorry which had actually caught fire when I reached the site of the accident (after three hours). Quicker to clear the vehicle from the carriageway than to clear the enormous tailback of traffic it had caused. Number 3: why do people think it is essential to change lanes in traffic travelling so slowly? What on earth do they think they are going to achieve?
Now home, to catch up on all the genealogy I have missed out on this evening (with the athletics in the background)….