Jonathan: Today, for a change, I’ve come to Chelmsford by train. Walk to Welwyn GC station, train south to Moorgate (but signal failure meant I had to change to another very crowded train at Finsbury Park), walk to Liverpool St Station (no signs to give directions), and then train north-east to Chelmsford, then short walk to office. Time taken 1h 50mins door to door.
Driving the far more direct east-west route along the A414 is just 40 miles (and about half that on dual carriageways) – but has never taken less than 1h 30mins, maximum so far 1h 45mins.
I have to ask – what exactly my career in designing and building roads has actually achieved!
Jonathan: Working at Mouchel office in Chelmsford today – very near the station. Took 80mins to travel 40miles there and another 30mins finding somewhere to park. Carrying out an independent check of major changes to a new road already under construction. The scheme is the extension of a Roscommon Way in Canvey Island, from the roundabout by Morrisons to industrial and housing areas close to the Thames shore. It was designed as a dual carriageway, but due to spending cuts it is being reduced to a single carriageway. Over 32 years in this business I’ve worked on lots of ‘dualling’ schemes: but ‘singling’ a road is a first for me! Original design was done well: the singling in a hurry, and it shows. I never like doing independent design checks: all the fundamental problems are always ignored, usually just a few of the relatively superficial errors are sorted out, and even that’s done grudgingly.
For all that Essex is a wealthy county and Chelmsford the county town, it seems to me a worn-out, dirty place. But the tiny CofE Cathedral has lovely grounds, and I enjoyed my lunch sitting on a bench in the September sunshine, watching the world go by. It was striking what a high proportion of people seemed to be young women: and striking also how most of them seemed to either be footballers’ wives – or wannabe footballers’ wives! Back at the office I mentioned this: Essex Girls, apparently, are in a class of their own.
To be honest, my day in Chelmsford left me more depressed than I’ve been for a while about the dreary shallowness of modern life. I cannot for the life of me think what I would do with myself if I had to live here in Chelmsford.