Clarkson on: the M25
It's taken them 13 years and cost £4,000 million but, at long last, the M25 now has four lanes in either direction between the M4 and M40.
Once again, men in suits can stand on motorway bridges and talk about how the M25 is an achievement to match the birth control tablet, space travel and fire. But this is codswallop because no-one is using that shiny new fourth lane. You couldn't get fewer cars in it if they'd laid mines. To drive on the inside lane of a normal motorway is to advertise your senility and your advancing years but to tool along on the inside when there are four lanes is the same as telling people you died in 1967. Not even lorries will go in it.
The M25 is in the South East, where everyone needs to demonstrate, all the time, that they are in a hurry, that if they can save a second here and a minute there, the next deal will be even bigger. So, hell, we all drive in the outside because the outside is cool and fast.
I could have told the government this would happen but they only listen to people in suits, or if they're Belgian. And especially if they're both.
So we're stuck with the biggest white elephant since Howard Hughes went into competition with Boeing. And to cap it all, we have to pay.
"We’re stuck with the biggest white elephant since Howard Hughes went into competition with Boeing"
Well, happily, I have a plan. It was hatched over dinner the other night after we'd seen off several wines and a vat or two of port. It was a gentlemen-only sort of evening where you needed cheese knives to cut a hole in the smoke. But we now know how the government can raise an extra £1,350,000 every week, which is more than enough to pay for their madcap road widening programme. God, it's enough even to pay for some signs ordering people to keep left unless overtaking.
Here's what we do. Every Saturday night, the Government takes over Wembley Stadium and environs. Wembley Way will be lined with that week's minor offenders, in the stocks, and private industry will be encouraged to come and sell bags of gravel and eggs.
On your way to the stadium itself, then, you'll be able to jeer and lob vegetables at the sort of people who drive down the middle of a motorway.
That part of the deal will be free, but at the main gates visitors will have to pay a £15 entry fee for the evening's entertainment. It begins at nine, when the muggers and burglars are brought out for a damn good flogging. This is a bit like Gladiators, except that the contestants will be in irons. And instead of oversized cotton wool sticks, the regular team will have leather whips and cattle prods.
Each week, members of the huge television audience will enter competitions on 0890 numbers, and the winners will be invited to come down the following week and poke rapists in the testicles with jump leads. But the main event will be the guillotining. After each show, on another 0890 number, viewers will be asked to select a person whose head they would most like to cut off. And whoever gets the most votes will be beheaded.
I don't actually agree with capital punishment but I can see the televisual appeal of various politicians' heads rolling this way and that across the pitch. Although I guess that if Robin Cook ever got the vote, we'd have to put it in a bag first.
I feel fairly sure that this will never happen and that burglars will continue to sit around in centrally heated prisons watching videos and smoking dope. And we'll continue to pay for wider and wider roads when all we really want is decent driver training and better railways. But if John Major does decide to buy our scheme, we even have a name for the TV show. Blind Hate.