There are few things I find more tedious and boring than driving on England’s M6 motorway. Typical of almost any major highway, it weaves a line through England to the borders of Scotland like a spinal column on a x-ray film. Its blue appearance on the map belies the truth of its characterless concrete and tarmac contours with six lanes of traffic, sometimes moving, sometimes not.
At the end of a weekend with my friend Will in Birmingham, I’m again heading home on the motorway that I once saw described with an armful of topspin as ‘Britain’s gateway to the North.’ Traffic is heavy but moving freely while the advised stopping distances between vehicles remains blissfully unobserved. Different colored metal boxes jostle for position as scenery flashes by in a seventy miles per hour blur. You’ve entered the race with no winners, no prizes, no glamor and no glory, you’re on the M6… ‘Britain’s gateway to the North.’
I barrel past familiar landmarks in an effort to get home before the sun makes it to the horizon; past the ugly glass RAC control center, the huge stores at junction nine and the turning for the M54 which offers me a last opportunity to take the scenic (if much more time-consuming) route home on the A41.
The outside lane is crowded bumper to bumper, passing all the Derricks and Hildas who are pottering along at no more than sixty miles an hour in the middle lane, leaving the inside lane as empty as a road to nowhere. Tell them they are driving without consideration for other road users and they would most likely reel off the fact that they’ve been driving for fifty-two years and never been involved in an accident, as if that statistic alone somehow validates their road hogging antics.
I casually glance beyond the confines of the motorway around me. It’s turning out to be a truly spectacular evening, the end of an unexpected summer weekend. At the beginning of September the British summer, which is as temperamental as a teenager, decided to up and leave without so much of a goodbye. It took with it what little warmth it still had to offer, and left us with the feeling that a long winter was just around the corner. But when I awoke on Saturday morning… [Click here to continue reading this article at ‘Meanwhile’]