Another Slow Day on the M40

Self Portrait with Traffic
Originally uploaded by NotInventedHere.

About half an hour into the traffic jam people start to get out. The smokers are first, then the desperate start to search for a hole in the fence and a hidden spot in the trees. Once enough people are standing in the road, it's time for the bored to start walking. I have an 800 page textbook on the Building Regulations with me, so I get out of the car.

In a large traffic jam it's allowed, even expected to talk to strangers. If people didn't want to talk, they'd stay in the car with the window shut. As I walk forwards through the jam, people talk about what they're late for: Georgie Fame at Towersey, or breaking the Ramadan fast in Birmingham. As I walk back, people call out through open car windows asking for news. Nobody seems very angry: the people who caused this hold up may well be dead.

There's no Internet in a jam like this - the mobile networks give up under the strain. I have the radio, and a call from home with depressing and inaccurate predictions from the Highways Agency. I never reached the front: the accident was more than a mile away, and getting there wasn't the point of taking a walk. The radio talked about lorry fires and oil spills, and the jam stretching back 15 miles. Some people had seen helicopters landing. When we finally moved past there was nothing to see but flashing lights and a burned out car.


Reading this month's Fortean Times I see that the young Barbara Woodhouse encountered an impossible marsupial skunk. She described it as "identical with the skunk picture in Cassell's Book of Knowledge". Karl Shuker asks if someone can find the skunk picture in the Book of Knowledge, to make some sense of this. Luckily, I have a Book of Knowledge. I search for skunk in the index, and find it is under fur on page 1530. I turn to page 1530: someone has cut out the illustration. Obviously, they don't want us to know.

Goldfish Hospital

Goldfish Hospital
Originally uploaded by NotInventedHere.

Chester has started to bring me live goldfish. The first one arrived at 11pm yesterday, and the second one turned up this morning. I'm keeping them in buckets in the utility room. They look a little tattered around the edges but they're swimming the right way up, which I take as a good sign.

I think I've tracked down which pond they're coming from, and once the owner gets back to work I'm going to go out and have an awkward conversation.

Update: she says her pond is covered in netting. I have no idea where he's getting them from.

White Noise

It's well documented that babies like white noise, and we've found that Jessica will fall asleep instantly if we turn on a hairdryer. What we're lacking is a really good theory. Some people claim that the sound reminds babies of the womb, but if wombs sounded as loud as a hairdryer, surely we could hear them from the outside. I think it's time this problem was handed over to evolutionary psychology, because as we know, evolutionary psychology can explain all human behaviour.

My initial suggestion: the babies are not content, instead they are keeping quiet so they don't attract the attention of the saber-toothed tiger they can hear breathing nearby.  Does anybody have a better idea?