Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Don't sell me the illusion of participation

Driving into work today, I was caught up in a tailback on the A55 because they had closed a lane on either side of the duel carriageway.  In the ten years I’ve lived in North Wales, I’ve never been able to drive along the length of the A55 without coming across closed lanes.  They never seem to do anything, either.  Most of the time, there’s not even anybody working.  They just put the cones out, close the lanes off and cause major headaches for anyone trying to get from A to B.

They were cutting the grass on the hard shoulder today.  I saw two guys with hand strimmers, and a road sweeper. 

If you hadn’t guessed it already, this is going to be a rant.  Barely logical, entirely subjective and--probably--lacking in common sense and reason.

Road works are a major pain in the arse up here.  There’s always some section of the road closed and it’s always for some pointless reason.  There’s a road--one single road--between my village (Bethesda) and the rest of Wales.  It’s the A5.  A while ago, they closed it.  The whole damned road.  Did it need resurfacing?  No, but they did it anyway.  Waste of time and my (my! I’m a taxpayer, damnit!) money.  I wrote to my MP and they told me they were doing it because it needed to be done, whatever I thought about it.

ID cards are being introduced in Manchester today.  Voluntary, of course, but it’s only a matter of time before you need to show your card to get cigarettes, alcohol, rent a flat, buy a mobile phone (terrorists use them, you know)...  The ID card scheme is just another layer of bureaucracy which to tie us up in red tape, another attrition of our personal liberties in the name of security, another tool the government--or whoever it is that’s in charge, because the policies and tactics really don’t seem to change with the governments--to keep us scared of wil o’ the wisps. 

30 years from now, after a generation of children have been brought up to believe ID cards keep us safe, they’ll be turning around to us and demanding to know what we have to hide.  After all, if we had nothing to hide, we wouldn’t object to carrying a card, would we?

Be scared of terrorists.  Be scared of strangers.  Of hoodies.  Of bird ‘flu.  Swine ‘flu.  Slightly bumpy roads.  Long grass.  But don’t worry--we’re here to protect you!

I’m not so naive to believe there’s some great conspiracy to keep us all scared and keep us all under control.  Get ten people in a room together and tell them to open the door, and you’ll see why large-scale, organised conspiracies are simply outside the nature of humanity.  The people in power are so busy running around after their own tails and jumping at their own shadows, they’re just trying to keep us running and jumping so we don’t notice.

Well, I don’t want to play.  I want to bumble through life in my own way.  I’m small and insignificant, and could be killed by terrorists or foreign superbugs or potholes at any time.  I could be killed by slipping in the bath or being struck by falling tree branches.  I could catch an entirely normal, bog-standard, indigenous bug and die.  There’s so many things out there trying to kill me, it’s a wonder I’ve managed 29 years.  It’s a wonder anyone’s managed for the past four-thousand years at all.

I can look both ways before crossing the road and I don’t eat from tins cans which have holes in them.  You don’t need to protect me from ethereal threats of harm and ghosts and shadows. 


Evis T said...

Sieg Brown! Heil Jacqui Smith!

For the fartherland!

Jo Thomas said...

The farther the better? ;)

I like rural living. I miss it, but I understand your frustrations on the one and only road being closed. Did I ever mention that up in West Cumbria (nearly) everyone is of the opinion that the A66 is the only decent road out of the area because it makes it easier to stop people leaving should Sellafield blow up?

Foxie said...

We have a nuclear power plant a few miles down the road from us. I think we’re in the ‘couldn’t-drive-away-quick-enough-if-it-explodes-anyway’ zone. At least we’re not in the ‘slow-and-painful-death’ zone...

Jo Thomas said...

There's you're explanation to your single road (and it's repeated closure, then :D They're making sure there's someone around to explode with the plant. SHould it explode, that is.