I drive to the West Midlands.

Cars. Industry. Unusual regional accents on the radio.

It is a sinister place. You have to pay to use the motorway. I drive on to the M6 (Toll) in some confusion.

The carriageways are empty and I speed up towards the Lichfield area apace. Honestly, I pass the odd fellow motorist, but it is like driving on Mars. There are literally no cars on the road.

It is not surprising. At five pounds a pop, they will never tempt people out of their houses and on to the roads.

I simply cannot understand the mentality behind the government that thought this one up. It is typical public sector incompetence and the sort of thing that Mr Cameron must address if he gets in. They just have no commercial nous at all. If they charged – say – a pound, then they may have a chance of getting people to abandon their Playstations etc and go for a nice drive, but five pounds is just crazy. No wonder people are abandoning motoring in droves. It is as if they are actively trying to stop people from using cars.

I motor on in increasing annoyance.

My meeting, which is about dogs, goes well. I do not have a dog and am allergic to them, but I use my imagination to think up things that are probably relevant to the dog community. That is the sort of professional that I am. I almost stroke one of the dogs, but it looks a bit bitey so I give it a reassuring stare instead.

Again there are no cars on the toll road on my return. It is lunacy. Everybody is a lunatic except me.

28 Comments

  1. Carts. Incest. Unusual regional accents on the radio, demanding human sacrifices in enormous wicker men. Pikeys with shotgun wounds. Yes, you’re safely home in Norfolk. Welcome back, Jonny!

    Hope you took the time to enjoy the breakfast special at Keele Services. Their fried bread is the culinary highlight of the Potteries. Also the cultural one, and indeed any other conceivable type of highlight. It’s such a depressing spot that when you go to the Wedgewood museum, even the Chinese woman on the bridge on that painted plate is shoving a shotgun in her mouth…

  2. I have a bitey dog.

    I believe it is the stare that makes them that way.

  3. was west midlands open on that day?

  4. There’s a lack of joined up thinking here… what we need are toll-dogs….you pay a few pounds and then you get the use of a dog you can stroke…all the bitey dogs are then available for non-toll-dog duties elsewhere.

    Come to think of it, if we all owned a toll-dog and a non-toll dog we could offer genuine freedom of choice to all those political canvassers that’re calling round…a chance to actually get something back out of the politicos!

  5. We in the West Midlands were all inside being force-fed manifestos yesterday. Or was it the day before? All these politicians courting our marginal seats means I have to get up and answer the door twenty times a day, and the paper recycling needs a skip instead of a small box. It was a relief to answer the door to a double glazing salesman.

  6. You could have saved your five pounds and used the non-toll M6.

    Of course, you’d still have been on your way home….

  7. The thought of your reassuring stare is oddly unnerving. I’ve a feeling that dog will never bite again.

  8. “Hope you took the time to enjoy the breakfast special at Keele Services. Their fried bread is the culinary highlight of the Potteries.” Ivan have you never had Staffordshire Oatcakes? they are like eating cardboard, only less tasty

  9. Stand still in Staffordshire longer than necessary and there would have been a fair chance, you being a high-profile media figure an’ all, of you becoming a Labour candidate.

  10. JonnyB uses the M6 Toll
    JonnyB is not a lunatic
    I use the M6 Toll
    therefore
    I am not a lunatic

  11. Jonny eventually you’re going to have to get used to all those perks of celebrity. Generally a four car entourage complete with twirly lights and large signs front and back saying ‘extremely famous author; please do not gawk, crowd, or attempt assassination,’ will tend to clear out even a moderately busy motorway.

  12. Were you lost JonnyB? M6 to Lichfield from Norfolk? What is wrong with the A5?

  13. What’s wrong with the A5? You mean, apart from the traffic lights, traffic, speed cameras, and the major detour to get to it from the A14? nothing, I guess.

  14. The thing is that sooner or later they will invent those personal jetpacks, and the roads people will be totally stuffed. Nobody will want to use roads – they will be like typewriters now.

    When I get my jetpack I might follow the A5.

  15. When you do, watch out for the volcanic ash!

  16. I am sure that teleporting is the future. If there were shares in teleporting, I would buy some and tell all my friends. They can already teleport subatomic particles, it’s only a matter of time. Teleporting will totally put jetpacks out of business.

  17. These pesky tolls are getting everywhere and my money is on the fact that it is the beginning of a subtle French invasion.

    Before you know it, we’ll have a Prime Minister with a foxy wife too!

    On the more re-assuring side, at least you didn’t have to stop at some rather alarming, yet strangely pleasant, toilet facilities. Like I did, recently: http://wp.me/ppqxP-ts

  18. And if the LTPL is reading this: Madam, I cannot be held legally responsible for anything your husband does with the money from his book advance and book sales.

  19. I have never had Staffordshire Oatcakes, FJ. I have looked at them, sniffed them suspiciously, and on one occasion poked some with a stick, but I have never eaten one. Instead, I asked the cheery merchant about them.

    “They are like eating cardboard”, he said, “only less tasty”.

    Marketing – another thing the Potteries are short of…

  20. Not bad marketing but good advice on that occasion Ivan. One thing the potteries are not short of is people who call you “duck” in a comedy accent

  21. Can I just say that I have shares in the jetpack people and we’ve been PRETTY BLOODY SUCCESSFUL in ensuring that the threat of teleportation has been eliminated.

    Get my drift? I suggest none of you consider entering that area of transport research, as we wouldn’t want any more nasty accidents, would we?

  22. I have long believed dogs to be the work of the devil.

  23. Wonder if a jet pack could be fixed to a bicycle…

  24. I don’t know anything about building jetpacks, GinaJM, but I suppose you could. Why you’d want to, I don’t know.

    I mean the whole point of a jetpack is that you’d be able to fly without doing much of anything.

    I do think Wright brothers enthusiasts have constructed flying bicycles where you have to pedal like a madman lest you drop to the ground in a splat.

  25. I was about to suggest that Jonny sees if he can get a book deal because his blog is quite good, but was in fact distracted by the North Staffordshire Oatcake chat – I have not, as far as I know, ever been to North Staffordshire but I found some oatcakes (in a packet) in a Sainsbury’s in Brixton once and, thinking they looked like very very thin crumpets (thinner than a pikelet, mind), bought them. I liked them, they were good. Then I found a recipe for them, which occasionally I make and I don’t find them anything like cardboard; more like very thin leather. But I like them, very much.

  26. As an alternative to the ‘reassuring stare’ you might try blowing a kiss. It avoids touching them and one is usually rewarded with a waggy tail and smile.

  27. I have no idea why, when English folks talk about certain places in England, they sometimes say, ‘It is a sinister place.’ It makes me curious, it does.

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