Traffic jam memories

Mar 10th, 2008 | By | Category: Personal Columns

Dublin traffic is chronically bad, but what’s new?

The road was completely jammed with traffic, nose to tail. Every couple of minutes like some great lumbering train, each car would move off, only to stop again having moved forward no more than the length of three cars. It took fifteen minutes to move about half a mile along a suburban street.

The delay was caused by nothing more than the traffic lights being out of sequence and allowing only three cars through at a time, despite the fact that there was no traffic at all on the street that was being joined. Another moment of frustration with the incompetence of those who run the city: everything is charged at top rate, yet public service is constantly sub-standard.

A moment of cheer came upon remembering Stephen. Stephen used to live close to the congested street and drove what he cheerily referred to as a Ford Concertina. Sitting in the traffic one evening, peacefully minding his own business, he said he suddenly became aware of a massive crashing noise behind him and before he knew it he felt the car behind him hit his own and watched helpless as he was shunted into the car in front.

Stephen’s blue Ford Escort was some inches shorter than the standard model, the front bumper was tied on at one end with a bright red scarf. When I inquired some months later as to whether he ever received an insurance payout, he said the insurance company had sent him a cheque for the damage. “You didn’t get the car fixed yet”.

“Ah, no, I spent the money on important things.”

Stephen died eighteen years ago in January past, stabbed by an intruder in his country rectory. A towering intellect and the kindest and gentlest person one could wish to meet; there was hardly a moment without a smile.

His street hasn’t changed much, one of the few things that hasn’t, and nor has the traffic improved.

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  1. Poor Stephen

    I didn’t know him but I remember well hearing about that awful murder. I can’t even recall his surname but for some unknown ridiculous reason I always remember dates – am I right that the date was 9th January, 1990?

    I remember that he had a very young daughter and his wife wrote a beautiful tribute to him following his death.

    I was expecting my own daughter at the time and was acutely aware of their loss.

  2. You’re absolutely right – I had to get out my news cuttings. It was reported on the front page of the Belfast Telegraph of Tuesday, 9th January 1990.

    He was the best.

  3. Oh Ian that’s so sad. Strange what little triggers we have that help us remember or feel something . . .

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