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Monday, January 10, 2005

Today's Sun (not that I'm admitting to reading it), features an informative article on page 19, just above the understated 'Gazza in Aids Fury' piece, entitled 'M25 Fire Bedlam'. The article states:

"A warehouse fire shut the M25 for hours yesterday and caused traffic chaos in and around London. A 27-mile diversion caused congestion right through to the Blackwall Tunnel, East London."

So naturally it was the perfect time for me to drive Lisa back down to Brighton.

And it all started so well. We managed to leave Shotley Gate at 4:45pm, which for us is a record, giving us time to drop in on my parents and eat shortbread. It's a two hour journey from there to the south coast (well it is the way I drive), so we left my Mummy & Daddy's house at 6:10pm, having refused substantial food, safe in the knowledge that we were only a couple of hours away from the McDonalds at Brighton Marina. (We're both on diets, but we hadn't had anything since those leftover Christmas chocolates at mid-afternoon).

Obviously we did see the sign saying the M25 was closed at junction 30, but being a seasoned traveller who's tackled this route countless times, I had no idea where junction 30 was. I decided to hope it was north, and confidently headed south. Right into a major traffic jam.

Interestingly, the authorities hadn't bothered putting up any diversion signs telling you where to go, so the congestion wasn't helped by about a dozen cars all parked on the roundabout at junction 30, while their owners got out and asked each other where the heck they should be heading.

Fortunately I have the innate navigation abilities of a homing pigeon, so I headed west towards central London. Only to hit an even worse jam.

Having progressed three miles in 55 minutes, I suggested to Lisa that (a) she should get out and walk, and (b) failing that, we should swap anecdotes about our lives to pass the time and keep our spirits up. She promptly told me about the time she and her sister attempted to poison sparrows with bread soaked in Fairy Liquid, because they wanted to know what a dead bird felt like.

I listened with interest, then calmly suggested that she might like to reconsider her decision not to walk. Well, what I actually said was "good grief, you're a psychopath, get out of my car", but it amounted to the same thing. Sadly she refused, and I dropped the subject, reluctant to ask how old she was when attempting to murder our feathered friends, in case the answer was "about 29".

Anyhoo, we eventually made it south of the River Thames a mere three and a half hours after leaving Suffolk, and soon came across an oasis in the desert - a branch of McDonalds on a roundabout near Lewisham. I'm on a diet. But for what it's worth, I wasn't very impressed with the new Munchies McFlurry.

We eventually made it to Brighton at 11:20pm. So just the five hours of driving. Personally I blame Crash and Donna for forcing me (against my will, obviously) to bring Lisa up for the weekend. Although I also blame Lisa for having the nerve to live in Brighton. And as for the firestarters, they have a lot to answer for too. If you're going to cause traffic chaos by burning down a warehouse, at least make sure it contains some modern art first.