Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Friday, 8 June 2012
Batheaston - an impotent rant
I got home last night to find the letter I had been expecting from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, expressing the intention to award me 3 points on a hitherto pointless driving licence, but only on the condition that I send them a minimum of £60 within 28 days.
I have not been offered the chance to be re-educated on a 'Speed Awareness' course at £150, probably because they think I am beyond redemption, such was the speed that I was travelling at when the officer poked a radar at me - 67 miles per hour in a 50 miles per hour zone.
I know this seems a reckless and dangerous flouting of the law, but - believe me - it wasn't. Well, it shouldn't have been. The offence took place on a stretch of dual carriageway with a hard barrier in it's centre - the type of carriageway which, anywhere else in the country, would have a maximum limit of 70 mph. The reason for the 50 limit on this one is to keep the noise down for the nearby villagers of Batheaston. How I hate each and every one of those fucking villagers, and not just because of this ticket - honest.
The Batheaston Bypass was the most expensive and controversial piece of road to have been built IN EUROPE (true) within the last 50 years, and the permission to spend the absolutely vast amount of money on it was - in great part - pushed through by the village itself, who wanted their property prices to rise by having all the traffic that has been going through it since it was the main coaching route to London, diverted away and cut through a stretch of rare water-meadow, displacing all the wildlife forever with a half-mile blanket of motorway-style tarmac leading to nowhere.
The reason it leads to almost nowhere is because the government had plans to connect it up to various other desolate stretches of destroyed countryside - all the way to Poole in Dorset - but were so shocked at it's cost that they decided that, even then, they could not justify the expense. Too late for the water-fowl in Batheaston, though. The contractors made enough money to retire on by moving about 2 million tons of the hill it goes up toward the M4, so that was good, wasn't it?
The police justify the revenue from their cameras on this stretch of it by reminding everyone that about two weeks after it had been opened, a cyclist who had been foolhardy enough to try it out was killed in a freakish accident toward the Bath turn-off, and point to a little clump of spring flowers that grow on the bank near the spot which were planted as bulbs by his relatives. In fact, a 50 mph limit is very much justifiable about half a mile further up, on a downhill stretch with a tempting three lanes which has claimed the lives of many people since it was built.
There is a fixed camera on the lower east-bound stretch which everyone is used to, so a mobile camera is often sited on the west-bound one, in a lay-by just beyond a bridge, making it invisible until you actually reach it - which in my case was too late. I was also distracted by an idiot in an Audi who - whilst overtaking me at about 90 mph - saw it before I did and hit his brakes so hard that I shot past him on the inside and straight into the jaws of the radar - oops.
The villagers of Batheaston - not content with their wonderfully peaceful (if dead) new environment - have had 'speed bumps' set in the road every few yards, and the tops of them are scarred by expensive cars which have low-slung chassis. When they first used public money to lay these obstacles, they made them so high that even the resident's cars were getting damaged by them, so they were forced to reduce their height a bit to protect their own property. I have a mind to send them a bill for 50% of the cost of replacing my damaged suspension soon, and I would hope everyone else who uses that bit of the A4 does the same.
When the proposal was first put forward to build the hideous by-pass, there were massive demonstrations against it - Bel Mooney even camped in a tent on the water-meadow! - but the Batheastoners got their way, including the 50 mph speed-limit to make their lives even more peaceful. For a while, I considered - when driving through their village - to make my presence safely known by sounding my car-horn each time I negotiated one of their speed-bumps, but decided that life was too short for that. In the light of my recent conviction for anti-social behaviour, I may reconsider...