Jackie drove me to and from New Milton today for me to lunch with Norman at Tas in The Cut.
The Cut, forming part of the B300 has perforce become a main thoroughfare linking Waterloo and Blackfriars Roads, roughly parallel with Waterloo East Station. Far too narrow for its current usage, this road is severely congested at the best of times. As I walked along it in the direction of the restaurant, I became aware that all traffic was at a complete standstill. A car horn cacophony rose to a crescendo. Perhaps the loudest, more like a fog-horn, emanated from the longest articulated lorry I have ever seen.
At the corner of the unfortunately named Short Street was not a good place for this vehicle to have become stuck. There was no way round the corner until a small white van parked in front of the cab was moved. The fog horn only succeeded in drawing the proprietor of the tapas bar to his doorway. No transport could move in either direction along The Cut. Passers by passed on by. Drivers of both streams of private cars, taxis, and delivery vans turned off their engines and sat and waited.
I told the lorry driver that I would ask the restaurateur, who carried a mobile phone, to phone the police to have the van removed. This man must have had contacts with local police, but was not prepared to do it. He said the driver should do it. Acting as a go-between by now, I conveyed this to the driver. English was not his first language, but he asked me if I could move the traffic, so he could reverse and go by a different route which I was able to give him.
Suddenly feeling like Oliver Hardy, I realised I’d got myself into a fine mess. Nevertheless, I said I could move the traffic.
The solution was clear. The small car immediately behind the lorry had to get round it. The van behind the small car had to stay where it was, leaving the lorry room to reverse.
On the opposite side of the road the taxi at the head of the queue needed to make room for the moving car. This meant reversing into the vacant lane on the left of the picture above. The taxi driver wasn’t prepared to do it. The stalemate continued for what seemed an age, until the taxi mounted the populated pavement and continued on his way. I managed to get the van behind that to stay put so the small car could get round. As I turned to tell the first car he could move off, another private car passed the van and filled the space. I got him out of the way by suggesting he, too, mounted the pavement.
Well, someone had to take charge.
This gave the lorry driver the room he needed. I have to take my hat off to the man for manoeuvring that vehicle in any conditions at all, let alone this one.
Norman and I enjoyed lunch at Tas, an Anatolian restaurant. My choices were calamari and mushroom starters, chicken casserole, and baklava, accompanied by the house red wine, and finally Turkish coffee, without the sugar.
Having a little extra time, I wandered around these little Victorian streets and came across one that reminded me of Mary Tang of Life Is But This, a blog I can warmly recommend.
In a very small plot in Sydney, Mary grows a veritable potted arboretum.
I wondered what she would think of Isabella Street. This is full of restaurants, runs alongside railway arches, and is lined on both sides with huge tubs of trees.