Agh! Traffic cones! Dontcha hate 'em? Bloody miles and miles of perfectly hazard-free motorway cut down to one 50mph lane because of thousands of cones placed there in the dead of night by mystery workmen in ski masks. You’ve all seen the signs 'Caution, maintenance personnel (workmen) in carriageway'. They don’t tell you what these phantoms are doing, do they? Well, they’re waiting for the wee small hours when a lorry full of cones arrives and begins crawling along a 25 mile stretch of motorway like a great wheeled hen, laying thousands of cones in an exercise specifically designed to get on my tits.
Anyway, one day whilst crawling along behind a retired assistant librarian in one of those dreadful Suzuki R Wagons at 48.3mph, and hemmed in by serried ranks of bloody cones, I spied an official-looking car parked inside the coned area – you know, the ones you think are police cars because they have the same self-important decals all over them. So I pulled in, got out, strode over to the vehicle, leaned down to the open window and said to the pointy-head behind the wheel, “WHAT ARE ALL THESE CONES FOR?” His answer astounded me.
Apparently, traffic cone production in the UK is government subsidised. It was one of the last Labour government’s wheezes to boost employment. As I type we have 1000% more traffic cones than we will ever need. And they keep coming because the present government daren’t shut down cone factories for fear of what that would do to the unemployment figures. So, as Mr Pointy-head in his fake cop car said, “We’ve got all these cones and nowhere to put them. So we dump four or five million every day on motorways up and down the country . We don’t actually DO anything in those areas – just dump cones. I mean, everything’s got to be somewhere, right?”
I was speechless. Bloody speechless. But did have the last laugh because as I rejoined the 50mph crawl, I took out at least 150 cones and watched happily in the mirror as they bounced about the carriageway. I was told later by a contact that this causes untold confusion in Coneland because whilst there are highly trained crews who put the cones out and highly trained crews who remove them, there are NO highly trained crews to stand them up if somebody inadvertently knocks them over. Felt a bit better then. But I am thinking of asking James Maynot to design a sort of trawl net you could scoop up a dozen cones with and then fling them up, over your car, at speed, into motorway service areas.