Motor Car Madness

see copyright notice. Page created 8-Nov-2000. Use the button groups above to navigate quickly around the site.

This is a short diary that I wrote during a 2-day business trip to Bristol in the mid-1980s.

Thursday 29 October
Morning headline: "12 die in M61 Inferno"
11:30Arrive in Bristol by train, relaxed and ready for the fray. Set out to walk round inner ring road to hotel.
11:55Arrive at hotel, choked and poisoned by exhaust fumes. Never mind, it can't be helped. Check in and wait in lounge for others to arrive in various cars, presumably having left London at the crack of dawn.
12:30First problem: car containing demonstration equipment unable to access rear of hotel due to padlocked chainlink fence. Driver waits fifteen minutes in car while hotel staff search in vain for key. Finally, decide to walk with equipment from car to hotel. Task completed in ten minutes.
17:30Set out for pre-dinner stroll to Clifton Suspension Bridge. Wait several minutes under bridge for an opportunity to cross road. Eventually dash across in narrow gap between cars, very nearly annihilating an entire Project Team.
22:00Emerge from very adequate evening meal. All, that is, except for one participant who had to retire early due to car sickness from the day's journey. Arrange to meet in ten minutes for an evening stroll.
22:10No evening stroll. Instead, great consternation - one of the cars has been broken into. Nothing stolen, but anyone entering hotel might suspect a guest had died. Long wait while police etc. are contacted and witnesses interviewed. Attempt to calm the bereaved driver with Scotch.
23:45And so to bed. But not, alas, to sleep. For once there are no problems with the temperature. Nor any noises from the plumbing. Just the steady drone of hundreds of cars labouring their way up the hill outside the hotel. The monotony is varied by the occasional horn, or a shouting match between drivers. All this, note, despite all windows firmly shut. Eventually manage four hours of sleep during the pre-dawn lull.
Friday 30 October
08:30Meet others for breakfast. Except for those who had to rise early to sort out further details about the burgled car. Spend the entire breakfast period hearing about the perceived merits of various types of car. Listen aghast to one soul who describes how terrible life was when his car went away to be repaired. The worst bits, apparently, were "shopping, and moving the family around". Check an impulse to suggest he leave his present job and open a family-run shop on the corner of his street...
13:00Lunch at staff canteen a short distance from hotel. By car, of course. Actually, it would almost certainly have been quicker on foot, avoiding the traffic queues and a tortuous one-way system.
15:00Back at hotel, very nearly create a Senior Engineer vacancy while walking from conference room to reception. Reason - the hotel architect saw fit to put a busy car park access ramp immediately beyond one of the doors.
Evening headline:"Nigel Mansell injured in 90mph crash"

So there we have it - a memorable two days. Even more so for two other members of the party. Ah, but, you say, how would we have moved all that equipment to Bristol without a car?

Well, I'll ask you a different question. Given that all the equipment and the UK team were in or near London, and most of the European delegates arrived at Heathrow, why in the name of Civilisation do we need to ask the first question?

top ▲