It feels like we are enjoying a political lull right now. Of course, there always is noise and turbulence somewhere in the world, but Trump has not spilt his milkshake over a royal, Assange has not been extradited, and the British have not yet met the rock face they are facing called Brexit. Here at home, the dust is settling after Budgetgate and Mad Mike and Cantankerous Kate are still doing their raucous rants. All is normal in Middle Earth.
So, it begs the question has anything changed? To me it feels like we are stuck in a traffic jam. It is frustratingly slow and we are going nowhere anytime fast. We cannot do much about it and it seems completely (!) outside our control. We can swap lanes, from Right to Centre to Left and vice versa. Or stoically stay in the ‘safe’ Middle lane and pretend you cannot see the cars on either side – the convenient ‘blind spot’. Other drivers can drive us mad with their behaviour and we start to recognise behaviours too. In fact, we recognise certain cars by their license plates or other standout signage but almost never the drivers in them. Weird.
While we are crawling forward, motorbikes whizz past us risking life and limb. The odd self-entitled driver uses the bus-lane to get ahead because it is ‘pretty legal’ until caught and they always have a good excuse ready.
Nine out of ten times, there is no obvious reason for a traffic jam. There is no clear cause and there is no ‘leader’ unless it is the slowpoke in front. It seems to dissolve by itself and go where it came from. What was all the fuss about? We make up explanations and ‘rationalise’ it by blaming; stupid drivers, stupid roads, stupid whatever. If we had stayed at home, would there be a traffic jam? Of course! If we had all stayed at home or had taken public transport, would there be a traffic jam? Stop asking stupid little riddles, will you! Are you some kind of Zen quiz-master?
Traffic jams are bad for the economy and environment alike. Yet, five days a week, we sit in them and contribute to them. Because we have no choice. In the morning, on the way to work – another day, another dollar. In the evening, on the way home – one day less till the weekend.
Our cars are (our) status symbols. However, in a traffic jam it does not matter what car you drive. It does not matter who you are, what job you do or have – presumably you are on your way to or from work – how much you earn. Traffic jams, just like democracy, are a great equaliser, and they force us to follow the (s)lowest denominator. Nothing ever seems to change.
Oh dear, an accident on the other side of the motorway. It looks nasty so let’s slow down some more to have a bloody good look. Oh crap, the car in front of me stopped and I hit them. I hope they are insured …