On the road to gridlock

Gridlock.
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THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By Carolyn Aldis

So, this week I am exhausted after a fairly traumatic/exciting couple of days. For some reason, the drama always seems to happen when I am with my eldest daughter. She had an open day at a university in Kent and so I arranged to stay overnight with some friends who live nearby.

I was completely chilled about it; the way I saw it, I had travelled to Valencia with her, so Kent would be a doddle…

We travelled down in good time, then the traffic began to be a bit stop/start and I was glad we were nearly there. I was behind a lorry, doing about 50 mph in the outside lane when the lorry driver suddenly slammed on his brakes, to the point that the tyres slewed to the left, letting off clouds of smoke and juddered to a virtual stop.

As the end of his lorry quickly filled my windscreen I learned the depths of my multitasking skills…I used my feet to slam on the brakes, my left arm to protect my daughter and, to my shame, used my mouth to utter, in true Father Ted style “Feck!!”

My car skidded away from the back of the lorry and towards the central barrier…I don’t know how I didn’t hit anything, but somehow managed to get going again.

I honestly thought I was going to crash; my hands were shaking as I drove on and I felt tearful but held it together…sometimes you just have to.

Having arrived at my friend’s home, we all laughed at my response to the lorry incidence and I wondered aloud what a holier person would have said – “Oh my goodness!” doesn’t quite cut it.

After the university visit, my daughter felt unwell and so we decided to leave early. I was a little edgy on the same road that had caused such a huge amount of multitasking the night before and found I was shaky when passing lorries. I tried to calm myself, thinking get past the Dartford tunnel and you will feel better…and then a mile from the tunnel, we came to a standstill.

An ambulance flew past and as one side of the tunnel was closed, I knew it must be bad. Even though the signs clearly said that 2 lanes were closed, people still drove in them, blocking the fire engine that was needed to put out the fire in the tunnel. We ended up on the hard shoulder, gridlocked for an hour.

It was just what I needed, to stop, do a bit of reading, pray for those affected and laugh at the number of men jumping over a fence to have a pee.

My daughter found a photo online of people running from their cars in the tunnel, away from the fire.

“That could have been us Mum, if we had gone a few minutes earlier.”

I don’t like to dwell on “What ifs?” - it’s a waste of energy and leads to more fear. I was just so thankful that we had managed to handle what had been thrown at us, without too much damage done… apart from my reputation, that is…