British weather is proof that there is a God and that he does not like you. When you are caught in the middle of some interminable squall, the misery is just too great for such phenomena to be random. No; a higher power crafted this. Some great and awesome mind invested tremendous time and effort fine tuning every tiny aspect to ensure maximum displeasure.
|Typical traffic on M4 between Cardiff and Bristol|
It is in moments like these that you realise the complete breakdown of society is never really so far away. But, hey, at least human kindness will persist. I found a surprising amount of it as I weaved my way down the A48 and onto the M4. Traffic was completely stopped at some points, moving at a snail’s pace at others, so I took advantage of my right to filter through it — easing the Honda down a narrow corridor between the endless rows of cars and vans and lorries. Many drivers spotted me and shifted their vehicles to allow a wider gap.
When we had still been stuck in heavy traffic, a small caravan of motorcyclists had formed — about eight of us moving through the filtering corridor, taking turns as leader. Now, as speeds picked up everyone was spacing out, each taking a lane to him- or herself and settling into individual cruising speeds. A litre-sized CBR had long ago shot off. Everyone else was moving away from me at a more leisurely pace (You can take the boy out of America but you can’t take the America out of the boy; I have a lot of trouble ignoring speed limits as flagrantly as Brits do).
Bristol is about triple the size of Cardiff and infinitely more cosmopolitan in its mindset. So, I wasn’t the only one filtering, nor was there just a single filtering corridor. Between all the cars ran flowing streams of motorcycles, scooters and bicyclists. Trickling through Cabot Circus I caught glimpse of a woman in a red Volkswagen Golf, its windows fogged on the edges by conditions. You have never seen a woman looking more miserable. Not sad or grief-stricken or angry or upset, just miserable. Flat out 20-foot-thick misery.
I felt so badly for her. And for all these other people trapped in their cars, trapped doing this every single day — year after year. I wanted so much to let her know things didn’t have to be like this. I wanted to tap on her window and say: “Hey, do you not see what I’m doing here? Stop doing this to yourself. Stop living this miserable car-bound life. Join me on two wheels.”