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‘It’s something to try. There’s a chance we might make it.’ (Gene Hackman)


******Do not watch if soon to travel on a cruise ship. Really, don’t do it*****


A few nights ago I experienced a lesson in human behaviour. Coming off one of the motorways, I passed along the long bend you typically get, only to be met a minute later by stopped traffic about 100 yards from a roundabout. Straight ahead would lead me home in 20 minutes, going left would get me home, in about 30. Going left, full stop, would get everyone moving towards their destination.

Only there was one problem.

A helpful roadside worker gave me chapter and verse as I asked him what’s going on ahead. He was only too kind to inform me that a lorry had collided with a car about a mile ahead. A quick check of google maps confirmed he was bang on. Nonetheless, I could hear the chap repeating the story as he tried to get a bit of work done himself on the road; or maybe not.

We were going to be here for hours.

Looking down the roundabout, I could see traffic flowing across and disappearing, just as a trapped caver might look for airflow. Hmmm, someone will be around in a minute. Someone’s probably having a bad day down there, ‘so don’t be too precious’, I’m thinking. Time passes as the roadside chap can still be heard, 10 minutes later. Still no police, and fair enough, they should be looking after the injured at this point, assuming it was nasty ahead.

More traffic flows across the roundabout. Nothing moves ahead.

Now I’m like Rambo watching his flaming torch in the mine, studying the rats in the flickering flames. There’s no logic in this, and I remind the others in our car of my early childhood watching the Poseidon Adventure. My kids are used to film references, but you’ll know the scene. Gene Hackman’s telling the party in the Ballroom to move up towards the bottom of the ship. The ‘patient’ refuse to move, waiting for someone of authority to come and get them.

Checking back on google maps, this incident was now creating a tail back for miles and miles south on the motorway. Now 100s of people are looking at a night in the car listening to Radio 2; it’s getting really serious, but I realise I’m at the front of my very first traffic jam. EVER. Now, I’m reasonably patient for 5 minutes, but the thought of hours in my car late at night, longing for a toilet break was scary. I really should NOT have had that cappuccino an hour ago. I have to see what was happening at this roundabout, which was still a mile away from the incident. I have to be Gene.

Door open, I’m out climbing the sparkly Christmas tree of the upturned Ballroom. Rather, walking.

Too my surprise, or maybe not, nothing is happening at the front of the traffic jam. 3 determined lorries stand silent. I ask the nice chap in the Royal Mail van if he knew the traffic was clear to the left, allowing him to pass freely along a Holiday Inn and back towards his route. He’s just not interested in diverting, even if that means waiting hours. He’s waiting for a sign and I’m not it. Just then a policemen in an unmarked BMW cruises through. Thank goodness, is he here to help? No; this is not his jurisdiction. He moves on after a friendly request to chat with the Royal Mail guy.

Nope, it’s down to you and me, Gene.

The other two lorry drivers are from abroad like me. With a little pidgin English, I show them Google maps on my phone. ‘Is clear’, I say. They listen, and eventually nod. Eventually, engines start and I duck out of the way as lorries start to shift. A pattern emerges; car engines start, as if by osmosis. I tap on windows to drivers and signal turn left, as I walk back to my car. Still, not a soul has ventured out of their car. All happy to wait in the Ballroom. Waiting for someone to come and get them.

Now what does this have to do with saving? **long bow drawn**

I watched Workie the other week and weirdly, the same thought came to mind. People standing around in the Ballroom, waiting for someone to calmly come and get them. I wondered if folk hope the rescuer will come with his scratchy beard and a massive state pension increase. Maybe it might start earlier too, yeah, that’d be a reward for the patience. Enough to make saving actually not necessary, allowing for normal spending to continue in the run up to Black Friday and beyond.

Live now, worry later. It’s a modern day, moral hazard. Thank goodness we’ve got something to do in the Ballroom while we wait.

Workie is now here to save us and maybe he’s good value for £8 million. Maybe not. He’s trying to convince us all politely and calmly that individual saving could be a good thing for you, when actually, any minute now the water could rush through and end it all. Even though another 2 years will pass before he’s finished getting started. Workie is in no rush as he wonders about the park, with time for a selfie and maybe an ice cream. Yes, that’d be a lovely idea.

‘Mine’s a 99, Workie, please’.

I’m rather hoping the future ads, or policy, gets a little more realistic. More gritty. That’s the world I live and work in, Workie. What if the part-time workers, the low paid, or folk who believe they are ‘unable’ to save, don’t have the surplus income? After all, you’ve been in the making for 13 years and it’s no co-incidence you don’t have teeth. Maybe the Lord, the Trade Union Rep, and the Academic are intentionally relying on an oversized lemming to rescue us.

I’d rather have Gene.

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