Ah, school holidays. They used to be a reprieve for the commuter, with fewer cars making for shorter journey times and less stress.
A couple of weeks of “oh, it’s not so bad”, allowing you to put off that moment when you decide to pack it in, move to the country and live off the land, for another term, and then another term, until eventually you run out of terms, they give you a clock and send you off, and during the following decades your only driving is to the cruise terminal and GP surgery. I’m sure I used to like commuting in the school holidays.
But now I don’t. I know there are still pockets of respite in towns at 8am, but the problem with school holidays today is that people still want to drive to places. Today there are a million people who don’t care about cars, yet who have spent their PPI rebates on them and want to drive them – while you and I are still trying to go places. And they’re hopeless at driving.
The problem, as I see it, is that these are people who have never set wheel on the M40 at 2pm on a Tuesday, driving, on the M40, at 2pm, and they have not a clue as to how to do it.
They are relatively easy to spot from a distance. Firstly, their cars are most likely to be superminis, crossovers or MPVs bought privately and chosen purely because of the number the dealer showed in the windscreen. The wheels will fill the arches more easily than usual, because onboard there is a surplus of passengers and Werther’s Originals.
Secondly, you’ll know because they’re in the wrong lane, at the wrong speed, at the wrong time. With the kind of forensic analysis you’ve come to expect from this column, I can tell you that on The Twitter – that saviour of lazy journalists everywhere – more police traffic officers have written in the past two weeks about pulling cars for being in the wrong motorway lane than at any other time in recorded history. And it makes me fearful. Fearful not because you and I have to share road space with drivers like this for a few weeks a year. We can cope with that.
No, I’m fearful because, in life, rules are governed by the actions of the lowest common denominator. Every time I see an overburdened MPV wobbling along the middle lane of a motorway, or I spot a parent in town, negotiating a mini roundabout while flagrantly texting their offspring to find out from which park they should be collected, I fear the day when someone will say that enough is enough, that none of you can be trusted, and the machines must take over.
I’d complain about it when it happened, but by then I’ll be living off the land and the only people writing about cars will be celebrity chefs and DJs.