There are hundreds of people trapped on a motorway in the
English midlands as I write this on Maundy Thursday afternoon.
are two people dead and dozens injured after about a hundred cars crashed in the
fog at about 7am. I was awake then and heard it on the radio and turned over under
my winter-weight duvet. I must get a lighter one this afternoon as the sun has
started beating down here which means we all have something to talk about just
as much as the first holidaymakers arriving in Ibiza for Easter.
the ones who were in that motorway pile-up though because they are going to miss
their planes or at the very least the offices they were heading for and my thoughts
are with them because they cannot get a drink.
I mean I
suppose the police and ambulance people have supplies of bottled water, but I've
only nearly been in a situation like this and I managed to drive a few hundred
yards up a hard shoulder and escape into the wilds of Birmingham or somewhere.
Wherever I was I found a Lebanese café and sat sipping tea and nibbling
at flaky pastry things with nuts in until I judged the queue had gone. It was
a man threatening suicide off a motorway bridge on that occasion and I remember
pre-empting the Home Secretary by saying they should bring in stun guns like they
would if it was a leopard. He announced the idea about a month later and I'm still
waiting to hear of it being used.
No, I've been thinking
that today should be a holiday. It used to be before Robert Maxwell spoiled it
when he owned the Daily Mirror.
Today is the day
before Good Friday when there never used to be daily newspapers in the UK. Apart
from meaning there was nothing to wrap the fish in, it gave national newspaper
journalists like me the most glorious day of the year: we were off when everyone
else was working.
In very big dictionaries you will find
the word "Wayzgoose" and I bet the spell-checker doesn't know
Dating back to 1731, the definition is: "An
annual festivity held by the employees of a printing establishment, consisting
of a dinner and an excursion into the country."
took this to mean the opportunity to go for a monumental drinking session in the
pub nearest the office to which we did not have to go. The usual regulars looked
in for their lunchtime sessions and left before us. The phone never rang calling
us back to work and the landlord would cook us a meal to be had in his private
apartment upstairs while we tried to remember why we were there.
even got a tie somewhere sporting a little yellow goose. I guess we had a dozen
made, but I don't know what happened to the other journalists, never mind the
ties. Most have gone to that big printing press in the sky where you don't even
have to write anything. The newspapers just print out (on hammered vellum) at
the merest flutter of an angel's wing and the crossword has already been filled
I think I will wear the tie today, but I am forsaking
the country excursion on the grounds that it may go past a motorway full of thirsty
commuters. What a nightmare. Have a happy Easter and remember what it's for.