Sunday, 26 October 2008

Congestion

I know most of what Alanis Morissette sang about was just bloody annoying rather than ironic (black fly in your chardonnay, anyone?) but that's the thing about irony, most of the time you don't sit there, smirking to yourself about how incongruous it all is, you start to seethe, frustrated by the whole 'just not right'-ness of it all, and the desire to just get out of the situation and on with something else. This was me yesterday, sitting in the World's Worst Traffic Jam.

I'm not one for hyperbole (honest!) and believe me, I'm used to jams, much of my daily Manchester to Leeds commute being one long one. This was something else though. Around 3 pm, my husband turned to me and muttered the immortal words 'shall we just nip to the Trafford Centre?'

Ah, well, let me tell you there was no nipping involved. First it was raining, and everyone knows it's impossible to drive well in the rain. Then the M60, problems around Bolton meant a 30 minute delay. We took a short-cut, a scenic tour around Swinton and Eccles before cutting through to Trafford Park, the wide open roads and generous roundabouts free of their usual HGV traffic. Then we stopped. And stopped. And stopped some more. And just when we thought we might move, just a little, just a few yards, yup, we stopped again.

The irony I mentioned? That would be Peel Holdings' 'No' campaign, urging us Greater Manchester residents to vote against the Congestion Charge, part of the city's bid to the government's Transport Improvement Fund and subject of an upcoming referendum. Yes, there we were, stationary, in a giant traffic jam, the very definition of congestion, surrounded by little black signs urging us, cajoling us to vote against the proposal when our ballot papers drop through the door.

I know of course that the CC wouldn't do anything about Trafford Centre traffic on a Saturday evening. Charges would only apply during peak times, and in the run-up to Christmas routes surrounding the North West's own shopping mecca have always been packed solid. It was the placing of the signs, the way in which I noticed them, which caused me to raise a wry smile.

Actually, I lie. There was no smiling involved, my husband and I were doing what all good couples do in such situations, blaming each other for the decision to come, shouting at missed opportunities to change lanes and perhaps be in with the chance of moving a couple of car lengths, sulking and trying to distract the baby from screaming one of the windows out.

In other toast spread news (jam, geddit, do you see what I did there?!) I am now outnumbered two to one. T loves Marmite, the food of the devil also so beloved by my husband. I can smell it now, and see it sticking to the knife, leaving trails all over the chopping board. Ewwww, I'm definitely a hater!

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