Sunday, 31 October 2010

Traffic Jams, Birthday Cake, and Quails Eggs Protests

It feels like I have driven up and down the M6 motorway too many times this week. The M6 is one of the longest motorways in the UK at 232.2 miles long. It took some 50 years to build, and at times if feels like you might have been travelling on it for as long. In my experience the Manchester to Birmingham section often resembles a slow moving car park for long periods of the day. This is precisely what the M6 was like on Thursday this week. Foolishly, I had decided to drive to Stafford University rather than take the train as I was due to attend a meeting later on that same evening at Holmes Chapel, some 25 miles apart and thought this would be the easiest way to get to both venues. In the end it took three hours to make a journey that should normally take at the most just 90mins. I was not impressed.

I was going to Stafford University as an External Examiner on a PhD Viva. I am always happy to be involved in these events, particularly when they involve hearing about the research of nurses or midwives. Less than 10% of nurses in the UK have a PhD, so I was very pleased that on this occasion the candidate defended their thesis well, and we were able to recommend the award was made. It was also great that he was a mental health nurse who had drawn upon my work in constructing his thesis.

Back on the M6 and the journey back to Holmes Chapel was a tortuous affair. The slow moving traffic, that in the morning had been overwhelming going southbound, seemed to have transferred to the northbound carriageways. It was a slow, frustrating and tiring journey back.

So it was with some trepidation that I started my journey yesterday morning down to Cardiff. For much of the journey one has to use the M6. I was on my way to celebrate my Fathers birthday, 30 guests were due to attend and most of the food was in the back of the car. Thankfully, the road was completely clear, the sun shone, and the autumnal colours were magnificent. The party was a success and a good time was had by all. The guests were family and friends. Among the group there was a teacher, midwife, financial regulator, falconer (complete with a miniature Peruvian Owl), a trainee policeman, house wives and house husbands, plumber, and lots of grandchildren. The conversations were often rich with description and difference.

One of my brothers told of how the social unrest in his part of Surrey (Kingston-upon-Thames) had reached new heights of unacceptability. It appears that the local youth make their protest known by throwing quails eggs at people’s property. He was deadly serious. I couldn’t quite imagine however, young people being so disaffected that they took themselves off to the local Waitrose store to purchase a dozen quails eggs to throw at peoples windows. Social protest is slightly different up here in the North.

The journey back from Cardiff along the M6 took just over three hours and was uneventful, and in a strange way calming. Happy Birthday Dad!