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 â€œnoâ€. They will point to the facts â€“ and they are unassailable facts â€“ 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 peasantsâ€™ 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 Bypass has been celebrated in song, most notably perhaps in Trebizondo Culpeperâ€™s opera bouffe â€œAriadne auf
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.