Notes Towards A History Of Blister Lane Bypass

Can we decently admire a feat of engineering which led to the destruction of an owl sanctuary, the obliteration of a fairground, and the destitution of a grubby yet loveable hamlet of genetically intriguing peasants? For some, the answer is a straightforward “no”. They will point to the facts – and they are unassailable facts – that the Blister Lane Bypass was completely unnecessary, and that in the years since its construction a mere handful of carts have ever been seen toiling along its grey Stalinist empacture. Yes, I meant carts, not cars.

Conversely, one might argue that owls are hardly in need of sanctuary, that the fairground was a den of iniquity, and that the peasants would presumably rather be sunk in paupery than be sent to the salt mines. Let us not forget that owls are savage and pitiless birds of prey. Do you imagine that, if the tables were turned, such creatures would provide humans with a refuge? The fairground was a notorious sink of vice. If we are ever to revive in young hoodies the virtues of piety and probity, such places of so-called entertainment will have to be burned to the ground, roadworks or no roadworks. As for the hamlet, it is true that the peasants’ hopeless hovels were smashed and destroyed during construction of the Bypass, but they are free to gather at the roadside in the wind and the rain, hawking their baubles and moaning their dirges, free too to accept alms from any passing traffic. They were not, I repeat, sent to the salt mines, primarily because we have no salt mines in this fabulous land.

The original plans drawn up for the Blister Lane Bypass are among the loveliest drawings I have ever seen. They were done in a variety of coloured crayons on gigantic sheets of greaseproof paper, and have a childlike vivacity, annotated as they are with marginal pictograms of heraldic beasts, imaginary cloud formations, and cartoonish tombstones and mausolea. It has been suggested that the infantile quality of the drawings is due to the fact that the plans were nothing more than a wet Thursday afternoon project for the tinies of Pang Hill Orphanage, and that there was never any serious intent to build the Bypass at all. This is poppycock.

One advantage of the Bypass that is often overlooked, and never of course mentioned by the sort of fatheads who prattle on about poor fluffy owls, is that a cart laden with canisters full of volatile gas or toxic sludge now has an impeccably flat level surface to trundle along. Some of us remember when such cargoes had to negotiate twisting tracks riddled with potholes and crevasses, with the constant risk of toppling over. Such spillages explain why there are so many poisonous ponds and ditches, riddled with mutant toads, throughout our land. It is true that such a cart will only be seen on Blister Lane Bypass once in a blue moon, but all great advances begin with tiny steps, or, in this case, tiny trundles.

The Bypass has been celebrated in song, most notably perhaps in Trebizondo Culpeper’s opera bouffe “Ariadne auf Naxos und Blister Lane Bypass”. A tremendously exciting, and inadvertently blood-drenched, production was given at the Bodger’s Spinney Variety Theatre to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first hammer blow to the head of a grubby peasant protestor.

To end these brief notes, here is a little quiz. How many tunnels were built under the Bypass to allow safe crossing for badgers, stoats and weasels? Was it a) one, b) six hundred and sixty-six, or c) umpteen thousands? Answers next week.

2 thoughts on “Notes Towards A History Of Blister Lane Bypass

  1. Are the grubby displaced peasants the same peasants that formed the whirling tangle that later became the game Mansfield we have come to know and love?

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