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2:44pm on Friday, 15th May, 2015:

Cut Off


Many years ago, I read a magazine article about how twelve accidents in just the right places could bring London to a standstill. A broken-down lorry here, a crash there, a fallen tree here, a roadside fire there, a set of malfunctioning traffic lights here, a shed load of liv e chickens there, ... London would have been cut off from the rest of the world.

I was reminded of this today when I went to the tip to dispose of the old tins of pain, empty printer cartridges, dead fluorescent tubes, cardboard packaging, faulty electrical equipment, bits of carpet cut-offs and 20-year-old bent curtain rails that had been blocking our garage. It's not far the the tip: I just go to the end of the road, turn left down Newbridge Hill ... oh. Newbridge Hill was closed. I'll just turn right up ... oh. Lexden Road was closed. Rather than drive into the centre of Colchester and out again, I took the only other route Baker's Lane. This is a road so flaky that it seems to be for six months in every year for bridge repairs, but I was lucky and it was open. It's not exactly an easy drive, though: pretty well single track, with a gold course off it so it gets more traffic than you might expect.

After successfully unloading my rubbish at the tip (for me, "successfully" means "I didn't run over anything that damaged my tyres") I decided to go back a different route. I went the way I would have gone if Newbridge Hill hadn't been closed, except with the intention of skipping the usual right turn and taking the next one up instead.

I said "with the intention" there as the next right turn was also closed. So was the one after that. The one after that was open, but having taken it I discovered that the right turn I needed to make off that was closed. I proceeded along it and took the next right turn, but the turn I wanted to make off that was closed, too. I wound up driving behind two vans through sunken country lanes so narrow that the van driver wouldn't have been able to open the doors to get out if he'd broken down. Other cars were coming the other way and having to stop in the entrances to fields so we could squeeze past them.

I finally reached a main road. I came across another closed road on the way to the house, but fortunately I didn't have to use that one.

What is normally a twenty-minute drive had taken me forty-five minutes, thanks to a well-choreographed series of closures. I didn't know Colchester had so many ROAD CLOSED signs in stock.

If they're still that way tomorrow, I won't be doing the weekly shop at Sainsbury's. The whole of the west of Colchester is effectively cut off.

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