Rescued on a wipe clean couch

I see this sign quite a bit at the moment on the M25. Free recovery… Await rescue. Kind of appealing in a non motorway setting… some might say a little romantic.

Be careful what you wish for

Be careful what you wish for

But if you’re unfortunate enough to be sitting in your chariot broken down on the M25 and feeling grateful for the prospect of a free rescue… you may want to think again.

Sitting in your car stranded in the road works is very unpleasant and you’d think I’d be grateful for a free rescue but as a guy, being rescued is emotionally a little uncomfortable…

…in “normal” life when things go wrong you tend to get some sympathy – warm looks and maybe a hug. But that doesn’t happen when you’ve inconvenienced a fellow motorway traveller by adding a 15 minute delay to his journey.

So I’m sitting there apologising to everyone that chooses to look, with their hate filled eyes, into my car as they pass me by. I’m mumbling expletives to myself as I patiently wait to be rescued. Eventually my knight in shining armour arrives… not on his trusty steed, he’s riding an over-sized tow truck, the kind of truck that tows other trucks. And my knight… he’s not wearing his traditional shiny armour his chosen protection is a thick layer of body fat squeezed into a grubby boiler suit which has been fully waterproofed by layers of grease.

“I bet you’re glad to see me” says Stevo. He quickly hooks up my ride to the Beast (the tow truck) – his words not mine – he gives me a wink and gestures me towards the front of the truck. I look back at my baby, she is now attached to the Beast’s giant hook. It looks as though she’s about to be dragged back to its  cave where she’ll be violated by a selection of greasy attachments belonging to Beast… not a romantic scene. And me… well Stevo tells me I’ll be riding up top! As I climb into the cab I could feel a wave of sympathy from other road warriors… yes death was the punishment they had wished for but this scene, and what might ensue, looked a little too harsh… after all it could be one of them next time.

Up top in the cab, it looks, feels and smells more like a beasts mouth. I’m sitting on what appears to be a couch upholstered in “wipe clean” black plastic…  a very convenient surface Stevo told me later. At this point I felt the need to remind myself that I too am a man… but did that actually matter to Stevo.

Fortunately there’s not much chat up top – not much anything infact – we just listen to Rod Stewart banging out “The first cut is the deepest” and “If loving you is wrong I don’t want to be right”. Stevo’s about the same age as me but that’s where the common ground ends. Clearly we went down different paths at a very early age. Stevo’s path was more a trip around the block than a journey, stopping off at the corner shop to get fags, picking up his wife Kaz at the pub and buying a scratchcard as an investment for his future. Whereas mine has been a path and journey that has taken me to the great unknown, a place where anything is possible and where dreams are made real… ironically the M25 has now reunited me with Stevo; we’re the same age and in the same place but I’m the one broken down.

Thankfully a motorway rescue is short affair… we pull into the next motorway service station, Stevo looks at me “there you go that wasn’t too painful was it” he jumps out the cab and lights up a fag. I gingerly climb out of the Beasts mouth and Stevo gives me a wink… really was that necessary? “Let’s get your girl off the Beast’s hook”.  I walk around the front of the Beast trying not to make eye contact with its headlights. The beast was huge and grubby… I’m sure it was smiling. We gently lowered my baby off the hook, which was now curiously very hot, and released her from the Beasts grip. It may have only been a 3 minute ride but she didn’t look the same girl. I got this feeling that she rather enjoyed being on the back of the Beast, bumping and vibrating along on his giant hook … would she ever be able to respond to me in the same way. Thankfully my own experience with Stevo was a little less traumatic… and maybe we’re a little more alike than I first thought, after all, I spend much of my time going around the “M25” block. Maybe I should invest in a scratchcard and some wipe clean material for life’s spillages.


So you like it thick and slow…

Thick and slow is never a good a thing when I’m in traffic on the M25. And thick and slow is rarely something to be applauded. But thinner and faster is not always better as pointed out by Frijj who recently reminded me, on a trip around the M25, that not everything can be improved by an increase in speed and a reduction in size.

and available in many flavours

and available in many flavours

This got me thinking… as a guy I’m occasionally reminded by the fairer sex that some things indeed are better thick and delivered slowly… but I’d never quite made the connection to milkshake. So now that I have been enlightened I have a questions for you girls… do we apply the Frijj milkshake topically as part of a sensual massage or is it best served in a glass as a post climatic refreshment?

51 shades of Grey

“Just do it”, “Think different”, “Never knowingly undersold”, “ahh Bisto” these are great taglines and have been backed over the years with millions of pounds. But not all taglines are born equally and most are not sired by an aristocratic brand leader or have the marketing budgets to get into our psyche. Some are dull or just a description of what a company or product does and others are lazy or just misleading. The M25 is full of such marketing masterpieces “the good”, “the bad” and “the pig ugly”. Having conceived and given birth to a few ugly buggers of my own, I’m always on the look out for amusing examples. A couple in particular caught my eye at the beginning of this week.

Seymour Transport a big red truck that I was parked behind on the M25…  the tagline… “Logistics Magicians”. Inspired… yes that’s exactly what I want from my distribution company a service that gives me a “Now you see it”, “Now you don’t”… and look “Now you see it at a location nowhere near where you were expecting it”… applause. Not quite tagline gold, though I am familiar with that particular type of delivery service. Luggage at the airport is a good example. Now you see it at Gatwick… then you don’t see it in Majorca… but just when you think it’s gone… hey presto it’s on the carousel in Chicago… more applause.  The empty luggage carousel is one of life’s most depressing situations, it’s a bit like looking for that £20 note you thought you still had after a night out and then comes the realization that you bought the last round of drinks including a few extra for some random Doris types hanging around the bar… a wretched thought… what was I thinking.

The other tagline that caught my eye this week was on the side of a truck. “Delivering the Gold” … how exciting… what was it promoting you might be wondering… well probably not what you might think… “Delivering the Gold” pertains to the new Gold Combi-Bolier from Potterton. Yes a boiler… the Potterton marketing team must have worked long and hard on the conception of that one. I say conception but I think that line was more likely the outcome of a finger fumble in the stationery cupboard.  “Delivering the Gold” sounds like an over promise to me… do they honestly believe people see a boiler as some kind of lifestyle or luxury purchase… picture the scene your girlfriend is just coming through the front door and you excitedly beckon her “Hi baby come into the kitchen I’ve got a surprise for you” just as she comes through the door you turn on the hot water tap… the Potterton Gold fires up and your honey is greeted by hot water filling the sink… a steamy scene straight from 50 shades of grey you’d think… but no… she hasn’t quite made the connection between a combi boiler and gold trinkets… panic; the Potterton marketing flunkies have really let you down and the only finger fumbling you’ll be doing tonight is when you make that call to Seymour, the Logistics Magicians, to request a Houdini like transportation of  your sorry backside out of there.

Potterton boiler

Couldn’t quite fit it all in and getting out of the car wasn’t really an option

David Sadler-Smith

Frilly knickers at the Autotoll

I’ve been commuting on the M25 for over 6 years and just like in life I’ve grown accustom to being told what I can and can’t do and recently a new instruction has appeared at the Dartford Crossing toll booth… is this sign for real. Exactly what is the speed limit through the toll booth?

My Health & Safety advisor might be doing cartwheels wondering how I managed to take the picture – I say cartwheels but I’d expect that would require a full risk assessment – so probably a forward roll. But worry not my health and safety guardians my car was stationary as it usually is at this part of my journey. I think the fastest speed I’ve managed through the toll is about 5 miles per hour and that can only be achieved by timing my approach correctly and a perfect presentation of my DartTag to the little camera attached to the booth – such a precise hand movement requires years of practice, over 2000 trips in my case… living the dream!!!

Crawling up to the toll reminded me of one of the worst experiences of my life… so what happens when you arrive at the toll with no credit or no exact change. That’s happened to me just the once, but I’ve been behind a few of the unlucky to be in this position. A warning to those to whom it has never happened – never ever and i mean ever put yourself in this position. In my case the situation began with the realisation that for some inexplicable reason I had taken my Dart-Tag out of the car the night before. I had no change or any cash and i was about 6th from the front of the Autotoll with no possibility of choreographing a move across to a manned toll booth. Realising my plight i began to feel panic beginning to spread through my entire body.

As I made my final approach panic turned into fear then to shame. The same shameful feeling you experienced when your dad walked into your bedroom and caught you pleasuring yourself whilst wearing a pair of your big sisters frillys. “Your tea’s ready son… I’ll get your mum to keep yours warm in the oven”. I’m speaking metaphorically of course. Anyway, you all know that feeling and for some of you it was probably much worse – one of those things that is never spoken about but never forgotten… feel free to tell us about your own experience.

Having no way to pay the toll is much worse however, because you have a bigger less forgiving audience, You can feel the hate and disgust coming from the queue that is beginning to form behind you… and you can feel the word tosser being burned on to the back of your head. So what next… nothing you just sit there waiting to be rescued by a Crossing Officer as your fellow road warriors’ rage turns into pure hate as they begin wishing for your premature death. Maybe it would be better if i got out of the car – never get out of the car – yes i felt like the tosser I had been branded whilst sitting in the car but once outside as i looked back at the queue i was now new feeling like some kind of kiddy fiddler with the crowd baying for blood and some taking potshots at me with their car horns.

At last i could see my knight in high vis armour walking towards my stranded vehicle … walking very slowly. God he looked smug… this is his reward, his moment, his bankers bonus that made up for what i guess is a pittance of a salary… though I’m guessing he got other perks, free crossings between Kent and Essex… nice. As he approached he looked into my vehicle… my BMW felt more like one of those police vans carrying the guilty to court for sentencing… i looked over at my McDonalds takeaway bag and wondered whether i could get it over my head in order to complete the pathetic picture. The Crossing Officer – is that really his job title – then looked at the baying crowd and gave them the ‘yes he’s wearing his big sisters frillies’ look.

After that it was got easier. The officer didn’t prolong my agony, he knew I had suffered and knew that if there was a next time I’d probably stop at the top of the bridge and throw myself off, his job was done. He gave me my ticket which required me to hand in the next time I crossed and pay the fee plus an extra quid.

The barrier went up and i was free. I accelerated hard; the last thing i wanted was to see any of the drivers who I’d held up. I was racing away… was that a flash as i passed another temporary sign reminding me that the traffic cameras are now working.

The Mid-journey Crisis

After a good start seems I’ve come to a complete stop. A bit like the M25, promises so much then no sooner you’re in top gear you’re hitting the breaks and then quickly milked of any optimism. So to get me going again I’m coming off the motorway and taking a diversion. A “mid-journey” crisis you might say…….. a bit like a mid-life crisis if I was looking for a metaphor. You know the best thing to do is stay put on the motorway, you know the jam will clear and you’ll be moving again shortly. But no, you’ve had enough, there must be more to life, there must be a better way so you fly down the clear slip road at the next junction and smile as you look at the other drivers who are thinking – I wish I had the balls to take a chance but I might get lost. You also catch the a glance of a smug looking bugger sitting in the slow lane who’s smiling and dishing out a knowing “you tosser, you’re gonna regret that sunshine” look. Bollocks to you I’m thinking.

It all starts so well. I’m feeling confident, unbeatable, I have a sense of freedom and I’m in control. I get to the roundabout at the end of the slip road …………. my sat nav is telling me to take the 5th exit back on to the motorway ……. that voice curiously now sounds like my mum … well not my mum, someone else’s mum…… my mum would be telling me about previous wrong turns and showing me the pictures. Back to the roundabout, I’ve got choices yes, great………. but I don’t understand any of them. Place names that I’ve never heard of road numbers that mean nothing to me. I know I’ll follow the guy in the Porsche who’s in front of me …….he didn’t get his Porsche taking the safe option, he knows where he’s going, he’s probably had many a mid-journey crisis. So off we go……… ‘do a u-turn in 100 yards’ barks mother. I turn her off, after all you don’t want your mum telling you what to do as you speed through the twists and turns of your new slimmer faster, better looking, b road. Oh yes we’re doing 55 I’m keeping up with Porsche guy. My wheels are screeching as we wind through the country roads my life is looking up. We’ve now been travelling for about 20 miles. I’m suddenly feeling a little anxious, I don’t recognise anything, and there are no big blue signs with familiar names, no matrix signs telling me to drive carefully, no hard shoulder in case of an emergency, no fellow M25 warriors for company.

Here I am out in the wilderness with the Porsche guy. Shit….. the traffic lights ahead change to red and Porcshe guy hits the accelerator and powers through – tosser. I can’t follow, i’ve not got the acceleration, my diesel engine is built for economy and safety and cruising on the motorway. Fuck …… I’m on my own.

What happened? I knew where I was going on the M25, alright it wasn’t exciting but it was safe and predictable. I knew my journey would take longer than I’d like, but I’d get there eventually.

So what do I do now ……. I turn mum back on……. “ take the next right and turn around”. I turn her off again, the lights change and I power ( I say power, I mean chug) ahead. I’ll not catch the Porsche guy, he’s probably a serial tosser anyway. But I’m not turning around I’m going to take in the scenery and meander down the country lane. I’m gonna be late, so what, I might even stop at a country pub for spot of lunch ……… who knows what might happen.

My advice……. if you feel you’re losing momentum don’t be afraid to take a different path, just keep sight of who you are. Don’t imitate others….. people will see right through that. Just like a great marketing strategy you need to surprise people occasionally, otherwise they’ll stop noticing you.


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Wanted ….receding hair and an expanding wallet

At Junction 28 going clockwise on the 25 is a large billboard advertisement in a field for which unsurprisingly turns out to be is a niche dating website, I think, aimed at a particular type of girl interested in a particular type of fella. I’ve not seen this poster anywhere else so I’m guessing the website owners have been conducting a bit of research and have established that there is a market for such a product amongst Essex floosies.

But is this what women really want? But hey …… I am a daddy and I’m sure I’ve been described as sweet …… well maybe more “sweet & sour” or is that more sour than sweet – either way I don’t think this is sufficient for me to qualify as a sugar daddy. Maybe I just need a bit more gold jewellery, a little less hair, a permanent tan and a big fat wallet……….. mmmmmm….. all that may take a while though the ”little less hair” is definitely a work in progress.

So what’s the alternative for a regular daddy type looking out for a new honey. These chaps (maybe they’re girls) at might be on to something and maybe there could be other niche “man types” that the ladies of the M25 are on the look out for. And being the sweet, but not yet bald, giving guy that I am here are a few ideas for niche man dating websites that maybe someone might like to pick up and run with. And who knows, anyone of these ideas could prove to be your entry ticket to
For women who like their man to be close by. But not too close by ……..just someone who’s going to look out for them at a distance (through binoculars) and follow them home at night
If you need a man who’s never gonna criticize the way you look.
This is the website for girls who want to date married men who pretend not to be married.
Ideal for all women who know how to extract the joy out of the important everyday tasks of cleaning, washing, ironing, cooking, decorating and gardening
For ladies who love time alone in the kitchen preparing tasty snacks for there man to munch whilst watching match of day

Let me know if anyone makes money from these winners………… or maybe you could suggest a few others.

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Think Bike……..Think Biker

Being from Essex the word bike conjures up a number of different images which has led me to give some thought to the latest piece of wisdom being peddled by the Highways Agency on their all invasive matrix signs. “Think Bike ……Think Biker”.  So what’s the message? “keep thinking about motorbikes and motorbike riders because you might forget to look for them when pulling out into the fast lane” ….. mmmmm…..a bit patronizing I think. Good advice though if I’d never driven on the road before.

So if that’s not the message behind “Think Bike ….Think Biker” what is it …. I’m picturing a sad lonely Highways Agency employee (Bob the matrix man). His job is to tap in the messages that are then displayed on the matrix signs. But life’s not good for Bob at the moment ….. after 25years of marriage to Beryl, who happens to be a leather clad middle aged biker, she has just announced to him that she’s been having an affair for the past 5 years with his workmate Mike. Feeling wronged and harbouring vengeful thoughts he turns to his matrix machine and gives life to the message. “Think Bike …..Think Biker”. Concise, but not particularly clear especially outside of essex… maybe he could have been a little more direct. What about  “Think Bike…Think Beryl” or a bit more cutting “My Old Bike …. Think Mike”

I’m a big fan of brevity but being too concise can lead to confusion or worse still misunderstanding. Marketeers love to come up with snappy taglines and one liners but take care, it’s more important in business that your messages are clear and easily understood. Remember not everyone has got the time or sharpness of mind that I have to decipher Bobs cryptic matrix message.