Reflecting on the M50
Graham Archer maintains that the M50 is a wonderful place to go to exercise the mind…or to search for solutions to the problems that beset us. Not to mention contemplating monument to our national incompetence!
I got an email from a friend the other day. He was responding to a suggestion I put to him. He wrote: “I was thinking about your idea travelling home on the M50 last evening.”
It formed a picture in my mind. I could see him, sitting all alone in his car, tossing thoughts around his head. I imagined him, crawling bumper-to-bumper, wondering “when, or will I ever, see my home again?”
It led me to ponder what a powerhouse of thought and mental stimulation the M50 motorway is.
Driving it, my mind always wanders. Off it goes, to contemplate the many questions and challengers the M50 poses. Variously, I ask myself: what must it be like to play tennis inside that big balloon at Leopardstown? I watch trees, always seeking to identify those fake ones – erected by mobile phone companies to fool us from seeing the labyrinth of transmitters that they conceal.
Ignoring that illuminated steel construction someone thinks is motorway art, I approach the toll bridge where everyone who questions such things must surely wonder: what sort of an impoverished country had we – that had to go, cap in hand, to a private person asking that he fund and build what has become a millstone around our necks ever since?
Were we so poor? How could it be that “the best little country in the world in which to do business” could not afford to build one lousy bridge? Every time I cross it my mind goes right off my driving as I think about the vast sums we have been forced to cough up in repayments.
Soon one approaches what should be another source of national rebellion – the water tower at Finglas. Poised majestically above us, one remembers the leaks that were found in it shortly after it was built – before it had ever come into use. Passing it, I am forced to wonder: does it hold water…has it ever held water…can it ever hold water or will it forever be another monument to our national incompetence?
Yes, the M50 is a wonderful place to go to exercise the mind or to search for solutions to the problems that beset us…a place to which we should all drive out when bothered by a thought that needs some silent contemplation. Looking around from car to car – often puzzling over what it is that is holding up traffic on the road ahead, one can almost hear those other motorists’ minds at work.
“Will I do this?…What if I did that?…And what if she told me to get lost?…Am I really ready for that?…Do I really love her?…Is this the time to say Ef-off or should I give myself another chance?”
While everyone’s eyes are fixed on the car in front, minds are focused elsewhere. And it’s at moments like that that I sometimes think of the RSA, as they chummily like to be known.
These are the people who unashamedly accept all the credit for all the accidents that you and I never have. In press releases and on radio, they can be heard putting themselves forward to accept plaudits for the lives that your driving and mine did not take. Yes…while you may have thought of yourself as a careful driver, take my word, it’s to the RSA that the credit is due.
You only have to hear their PRO, or listen to Gay Byrne rabbiting on about the lives they’ve saved. And now, new chairman Liz O’Donnell is at it too, lecturing us about their work and the importance of road safety.
We M50 users may be a careful lot but, if we spend our time driving in deep and silent contemplation, many may think that there is a road safety significance to what we’re doing.
I accept that the RSA has forced us into wearing seat belts; that they’ve brow beaten us into leaving our mobile phones aside; that they’ve pinned our children in the back seat and stopped us (perhaps rightly) doing all the things they think are bad for us.
But there is one hill that they have yet to climb!
To the person in the RSA whose job it might be to dream up new ideas for the future – that will give that organisation new meaning and purpose and put off the evil day when many might think their job is done – I offer this observation:
You haven’t yet stopped us from thinking when we’re driving!