The road ahead was grim, stationary traffic, heavy rain and his bladder was painfully full , a problem compounded by the certain knowledge that that pain would get more intense as the large latte, consumed in the jovial end of meeting session was working its way through his innards. The large continental lorry ahead of him blocked his view but that didn’t matter, the satnav had given him the bad news that this jam stretched for 7.5 mile and was caused by a broken down coach full of passenger. He could bear it no more, turned off the engine and headed over to the hard shoulder , in the full view of hundreds of other drivers, but it felt so good.
Turning round, the pressure now gone and his spirits lifting, he was presented with a view of dense traffic stretching out in both directions. Nothing was moving except a very annoying motor bike that was weavings its way down between the stationary traffic. He could see that this freedom to make progress was upsetting just a few people, as some were opening car doors just as the bike approached or just indicating they were about to move off. The rider was wise to all of this and kept up his weaving, a skill gained out of long practice. He knows that at this moment, he was hated by all the drivers now trapped on this stretch of the M-25 motorway.
He looked around and could see that now that he had set an example other drivers were getting out of their vehicles to relieve themselves on the hard shoulder, much to the obvious annoyance of a female driver in a BMW for whom this simple biological necessity was just not possible, at least not in board daylight.
The bike disappeared into the ocean of traffic ahead, a few conversations had started up amongst the escapes on the hard shoulder, emboldened by their bravery in leaving their vehicles (or was it desperation). Mostly monosyllabic the conversations seemed to consist of a just two or three swear words repeated in several combinations, although one lorry driver did have a much larger vocabulary of similar words and was gifted in their use.
Looking up and down the hard should, he could see that he had started something as the drivers further away had now left their vehicles and wave of relief soon disappeared from sight in either direction.
There seemed little point in going back to his car so he started to look around. “I wonder where this is”, he thought? The countryside either side of the motorway was a lush network of fields and small woods and he could just make out a church spire in the distance, maybe a village? Drivers has mostly turned off their engines now and the sudden silence felt so out of place in this landscape of crash barriers, tarmac, while lines and sleeping vehicles.
The countryside around them seemed to grow in stature, surrounding their small ribbon of silence in the cacophony of the countryside, he could hear bird song and cattle in the distance and a tractor was working in a field over there. This ribbon of steel and tarmac , which normally filled his field of vision had retreated to this thin monochromatic line, this unnatural scar of desolation, that scythed across the landscape of colour.
He had been this way many times, but had never seen this place before, it just flashed past, the road was the constant, the fixed feature in the firmament of his working life.
High above he could see a bird of prey circling, probably frustrated by all the people encroaching into its hunting territory along the side of the motorway. Suddenly it plummeted down into the field next to the motorway and emerged from the long grass with a small creature clutched in its talons. He watched the bird fly away in rapt concentration, his emotions moved by this sight of extreme but so very natural violence.
The sound of engine starting and horns blaring roused him from this heightened state, traffic up ahead was on then move, he walked calmly back to his car and started the engine.
In a few minutes he was back up to speed. He knew that he would never be able to identify that spot at the side of the road where his life changed for ever, but it had. He pulled into the next service and just sat in his car reliving the emotions of those few minutes at the side of the M25 motorway. The angry female BMW driver screeched past, her desperation now relieved she was safe on the narrow this ribbon of tarmac and concrete that set the boundaries of expectation and ambition..
And in that moment of complete certainty the course of his life changed and he escaped from the shackles of his narrow prison.