Monday, November 30, 2009

South of Thickthorn

Thickthorn Thickies!

Fantastic news! The plans to completely dual the A 11 are well and truly on the drawing board! Actually, they have been on the drawing board for the best part of the last 30 years.

Kindly stop muttering better late than never.

What I have found most enjoyable so far in the process is the splendid graphic produced by the EDP to illustrate what the new road would look like. Choosing the memorial between Thetford and Barton Mills as the focus, the view is truly spectacular as the road snakes relentlessly towards Thetford – disappearing in the distance with all the grace and aplomb of a rattlesnake retreating up a rhinoceroses bottom. Absolutely beautiful.

Thirty years late, but beautiful.

Would that all the news was quite so ascetically pleasing in the A 11 saga.

The EDP also kindly provided a map which shows the course of the new carriageway. Just like in the picture it follows the old carriageway for 9/10 if the way. The only new bit is the Elveden by-pass, for that is what it amounts to.

So, we need about 9 miles of new carriageway. We bypass Elveden allowing this Norfolk Sleepy Hollow to return to its pre-auto mobile-age tranquillity. So, what is required? One bridge (there is one stream to cross near the Barton Mills roundabout). Some new carriageway. Some kind of junction for the few minor roads encountered. That's about it.

The cost? About 127 million pounds. That's about 14 million pounds a mile. Perhaps the carriageway is to be gold and diamond encrusted? Maybe the bridge is to be built to withstand the ravages of nature for the next 2000 years?

Could someone please explain to me why it costs so much?

Perhaps it's because the same numpties who are planning this project are same ones who: firstly, decided that the original Thetford by-pass was to be single carriageway; secondly decided the same for the original Attleborough by-pass; thirdly were most likely in on the original designs for the Titanic!

Question. How much intelligence does it take to realise that if they had built the whole damn thing in one go it would have been finished 30 years and would have cost 10% of what they are trying to charge the poor old taxpayer today!

We should get the bulk of the money from those idiots.

I remember making the point when they finished the Roudham Heath section – which abuts the proposed extension. All the equipment was there and in place. The land is flat and dry. Why not just carry on and built? “Oh, no,” they cried, “we can't do that!” First we have to have a planning enquiry (the result of which everyone already knows); then, we have to carry out extensive tests on the soil for drainage and subsidence; then we need to consult local people.

Or, we could just dust off the plans that have been gaily mouldering in the cupboard for the last 25 years and submit them. But, no, that way we can't jack-up the costs.

It's a damn scandal.

Now, for the really good news. It the Tories win the next election, they may cancel the whole thing! Couldn't help themselves from bailing out the banks to the tune of umpteen billions, but they may need to save a few million by cancelling the A 11 project.

Yeah, right.

Saving the best bit for last, now someone has decided that if the road is dualled the Barton Mills roundabout will become a major bottleneck. What nonsense. There is already a roundabout at the Norwich end and three at Thetford and one at Attleborough. One more isn't going to make any difference!

But, wait, perhaps we can delay the project for another 40 years whilst we assess the roundabout situation!

Get on, just get on with it!

Sometimes you just have to laugh or you would cry.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Enough to make you cry!!

Sometimes it is hard to take football seriously.

Today is one of those sometimes. Thierry Henry is in sore danger of a brouhaha moment which will, no doubt, not endear him to the Paddys! What a farce!

What's really surprising is the number of well-respected commentators jumping on the bandwagon. Wow! They finally realised that football is a silly game populated by real Neanderthals (both on the pitch and in the stands) as opposed to the the Turnip Taliban! I'm genuinely amazed.

First we have that respected commentator Hugh McIlvanney informing us that “Video refs can catch the cheats”. Excuse me, Hugh, where have you been for the last umpteen years? Are you seriously telling your readers that you only just noticed that football is populated by cheaters and that the administrators have done nothing about it since time began? Pull the one with the bells on!

Do you not remember the Maradona “Hand of God”? How long ago was that? Was anything ever done? Wake up!!

Instead of vilifying Henry, who is, after all, only doing what anyone would do if they knew they were not likely to get caught; Hugh might reserve his righteous ire for the game itself. To be fair, he does touch on this, but, as usual, chickens out at the crucial moment.

In a long article, he reserves his opprobrium for the administrators, chiefly Sepp Blatter of FIFA. Come on Hugh! Easy target! Some of this is, surely, down to the Fourth Estate! You guys are not Babes in the Wood!

Facts are that football is a rotten game which is designed to encourage the basest instincts in the human character. Hugh is hinting at this, but he is not willing to condemn sufficiently.

Same day, same paper – we have a stab at it from Dominic Lawson on the Editorial page. His article, “A game of two halves: cheating and whining” reads better than the lily-livered Hugh. He goes though the whole gamut of footballing sins. He is particularly aghast at the Irish howls of derision, when, as he skilfully points out, Ireland's Roy Keane attempted to cheat twice in the same game, only to be foiled because the ref happened to be looking. He quotes Damian Duff – Irish striker - “If it was me or Robbie at the other end, we would have tried it. You just expect the referee or linesman to see it.”

How sad it is that on the day even the match commentators did not see the hand ball until the replay! Dominic's point that no-one has ever seen a referee change his mind is the key. Since the poor old ref made a boo-boo, he will be pilloried. Meanwhile, the idiots who run the game will cry crocodile tears and strike him from their list of possible World Cup referees (and their Christmas card list!!).

Contrasting rugby and cricket with their reliance on technology (Hugh, are you listening!!) only leads Dominic deeper into despair. His conclusion that football attracts a particular type of person, a yob, just about sums it up.

I love his last sentence: “Does anyone know why it is still called “”the beautiful game””? That has to be the biggest joke of all.”