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WEEKEND WEB: Boris, bridges and me

PAST MASTER: Boris Johnson has long been an expert on all matters relating to transport.
PAST MASTER: Boris Johnson has long been an expert on all matters relating to transport.

WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

I like to think the basic start to any new year, the one starting in January, should be relatively peaceful and not too demanding although its not always the case with this year being a rather classic example of ticking the box marked ‘Oh dear’.

Amid the now usual or anticipated ‘messages’ that arrived in the emails, there is usually something silly so as you don’t feel left out of it all.

However, there have been a few messages recently regarding something I must admit I knew nothing about (there – can’t be perfick all the time) and I had to look it up to see if April 1 had not been brought forward slightly in case bad weather is forecast for that date, more so for those with outdoor events planned like painting barbed wire.

On checking I can sort of understand why the sudden interest has come from over a period of a few days, with perhaps even more to follow as folk get their bedding plants wrapped up in assorted old newspapers (believe me, its happened) then sit to ‘catch up’ on the news as it was then.

The gist of all this is one Boris Johnson, for it is He, the lad in charge of ruffled hairdos, has announced details or rather an idea (his) for a Channel bridge between the United Kingdom (hereafter to be referred to as the defendant) and French France (hereafter to be referred to as the other lot) as in the one across the English Channel (until further notice or as such time as we can buy it back from whomever sez they own it or saw if first) that is full of wet sea stuff.

Now, has he not heard there is a tunnel thing (it was in all the papers and on the telly at the time it opened up shop) we have already in use, possibly under-used judging by some reports and may well have its construction costs paid for by the year 2337, April, assuming the planet is still going then even if the tunnel isn’t.

The sheer cost of such a bridge would be mind boggling for starters plus the down side being what if Hurricane Sidney cranks up the action? Do we wind it in and put signs up either end saying ‘Hurricane stopped play’? – with so many possibly dozens or hundreds of pillars and columns to support it plus the risk of a New Year’s Eve party on a cruise liner getting too merry on the ‘jolly juice’ and careering into a few dozen pillars, columns or so does not bear thinking about.

By now you may be wondering as to how I got involved in this and to be honest, I am of the same mindset myself so I will try to explain as best I can.

In basic terms it seems that once people or certain members of said people or those able to use a keyboard without the constraints of wearing or being in jackets with straps up the back, heard about this proposed ‘idea’ had stopped laughing then possibly sat and wondered, as you or they do, then assumed as the idea was so daft it might be something to do with me (aw shucks, its nothing).

And while I can say it’s not in any way, I am flattered that so many thought I was and I have said so in my assorted replies.

It’s some years ago now since the HS2 railway thingy was first proposed that would shave off a few minutes travelling from London to Manchester and beyond by choo-choo (the olde worlde name for a train) at eye wateringly enormous expense of course (we don’t do anything cheap anymore when it comes to building anything big or huge, more so if it’s in the pubic domain or for public use).

At the time or thereabouts I had a call or two as in the media in general as to my reaction (?!) to hearing about this and could I give them a quote (thankfully I don’t get pestered or asked much these days) from somebody ‘in my position’ but how they knew I was sitting in our kitchen, mostly waiting for the kettle to boil when they rang was always a mystery.

I pointed out that I did not know anybody who actually did this journey, more often or not I asked if they themselves knew anybody that did and they didn’t, not once, so my regular reply was perhaps it would be cheaper if whoever these people are, would it be better if they caught an earlier train and save all the billions being spent to save mere minutes on travel time or if so important just move and live there – simples.

Oddly, nobody ever bothered to print that so I never really bothered replying to other so called ‘topical questions of the day’ even more so from somebody in my (alleged) position, in the kitchen near the kettle and the teabags at the ready.

Speaking as someone who stood for the best part of the way from Lincoln to Spalding on a train recently due to overcrowding, suggest they sort out the present day services first.

In a similar vein some years ago where I used to live, on a quiet sunny afternoon I was welding away as the quietness was shattered by an RAF jet from one of the local airbases in the area as it went Mach 1 speed or broke the ‘sound barrier’ as it went with such a wallop but thought no more about it.

Half an hour later, the phone rang and the caller introduced himself as Sergeant Wotnot from our local police station, sorry to disturb me he explained as I was no doubt ‘working on important projects’(!) but was I alright?

I must admit this was a new one on me when the police ring to see ask if you’re alright but then it might have been some sort of initiative to cut back on ‘missing persons’ reports if they knew where folk are, who knows?.

Did they ring safe-crackers, on the job so to speak, and inquire if they had enough dynamite with them? – or enough fuse wire maybe?

Once over this intellectual hurdle of sorts he then explained that they had had numerous telephone calls from the public about a ‘damn great bang’ heard earlier in the area and with much discussion among the station staff, various ideas had been suggested and the popular response was it had to be something to do with me (there you see – flattery again) as he then went all quiet before he asked me – I shall never forget this line – in a sort of hushed tone : ‘Er, this ere bang, Sir – would it be anything to do with something you are currently working on at all?’

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at hearing that but I assured him that if I could create that sort of bang in my shed or even outside it, I would ring him and tell him about it as well as invite him round plus get the tea pot out and celebrate it.

So all I ask of Boris is whatever it is he is thinking about doing, can he keep it to himself – please?

PS: we still have potholes that need fixing first.


It’s how you find them


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