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The Charge of The Tight Brigade


Former BA Boss Rodd Eddington called for congestion charging the other day in a report commissioned by the Treasury. Most commentators think pay as you go motoring is now inevitable - for Brendan Hawthorne it's a journey from bad to verse.

Onto the roads of death and pot holes

drove the 30 million or so

The foreign delivery trucks all lined up

crawling from the ferry routes

with their fat belly tanks full to bursting

with duty free diesel to

help keep our home economy burning

by putting the squeeze on British hauliers

Following in the queues are the reps and the execs

who still won't video conference

and snarl up the jam-crush rush-hours

in getting out of the office only to get back in

when their tiring day of hands free commerce

and cancellation is over due to prolonged sitting

parked-up on stationary dual carriageways

and time limited car parks of fast-food diners

Then we have the much-needed carers

those domestic visit social workers keeping

the lid on sanity and welfare

Nurses and doctors on health visits

the ambulance crews and their

paramedic protocols in saving life

at the last gasp and in the nick-of-time

The mid-wives geared up

to welcome in the little ones

who can't wait any longer

The parents whose local schools

have been rationalised to

a car journey or two buses away

And there's the out-of-town shoppers

and the disabled who need to get about

and the tourists and pleasure travellers

and the 4x4 owners muscling in on lane changes

and in times of mourning

the slow distribution hearses to send

off the old worn out citizens with some dignity

The mobile hairdressers, chiropodists

plumbers, electricians, builders and council workers

and all other dependants

whose mainstay workplaces and

factories have been reduced to

short-term contracts and one-offs wherever

The groaning moaning morass of a mobile workforce

fed up with free timetable public transport

in cramped and often dirty and fearful

conditions taxed and charged to the hilt and

pay-anchored by the minimum wage

And now we are all facing the indignity

of yet an otherinflationary stealth charge

A slap in the face from a

sell off sold out government

so pre-occupied and paranoid

with where the public is

what it's saying and to whom

that they now want to spend millions in reaping

the rewards of congestion charges

noting how far we travel and when

along the narrowing arteries of Britain

that link brown-field warehouses to

housing estates and

conurbations to coastlines

traffic island road works to contra-flows

Politicians joining up the dots and still not getting the picture

in the feigned interests of the voting public

in disguising this as an ecological measure

inflaming prices and driving down the desire

to seek and find new horizons

in a vain fingers-crossed

‘lie back and think of England' hope

so that the treasury coffers can swell

in time to meet the nations slump at the wheel

that looms large now around every corner

The ambush that les in wait

The one that will break the back

of a once willing to work Nation

now well and truly gone off the rails

sending its private and personal transport users

right around the bend once and for all

leaving the Commons to thumb a lift at the roadside

when we are all no longer interested and

when all the pay-as-you-go

has got-up-and-gone

Brendan Hawthorne copyright 2006

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