Wensleydale and the whippet

Let’s get this straight: when I’m Prime Minister, given basically anyone’s allowed a go now hahaha, the first new crime on the statute books will be tardiness.

I will trample a litter of newborn puppies to get somewhere on time. I don’t instantly want you dead if you’re late to meet me, but your first born are fair game. If we agree to meet at 7pm and you arrive with a “Sorry, I got caught up” at 7.50, I’ll have spent the 45 minutes since your grace period ran out thinking of ways to have you arrested for sex crimes.

But that doesn’t make me a hurrier. If I say I’m going to be somewhere at a certain time, I make sure I add a few minutes’ buffer to the journey. If I’m looking like being early, that’s why God made pubs.

I don’t spend my days hurtling about like a sheepdog on Ritalin. Which brings us to HS2.

So far there’s been nearly £8 billion spent on the planning of a train line that will shave 61 minutes off a journey from Birmingham to Leeds. You’ll be able to get from Birmingham to Leeds in under an hour, giving you an extra hour in Leeds. Even more time to enjoy ‘The Emmerdale Studio Experience’:

Unfortunately ‘The Woolpack’ will not be open for business, but we do have a fully functioning café serving delicious hot and cold food and drinks.

Although filming does happen at both studio locations during the week, actors will not be present during your tour as they will be having a well earned weekend off!

You will get chance after the tour to browse our range of Emmerdale merchandise, unique gifts and memorabilia. We cannot send any of the items in the gift shop by post.

Despite the undeniable pull of ‘the most iconic sofa in soap-land!’, the government recently decided to look at this project’s benefits again. The general consensus is that former Minister for Slapstick Chris Grayling might well have Graylinged the fuck out of it all. Should we bin the whole enterprise and blame the Black Hole of Grayling for billions of disappeared pounds and hope the public will simply say ‘Graying’ with a chuckle and a shrug?

No, they’re going ahead with it. We’ll all be able to get to Leeds sooner, and have more time to spend in the famous city district of Sheepscar. That could be ‘sheep’s car’ or ‘sheep scar’. Both are so thoroughly Leeds.

In all honesty I was in favour of HS2 to start with. Not because I think anyone needs to get from anywhere to anywhere else up north any faster, Christ no, but because spending money on northern infrastructure projects seems just and fair given the enormous cash bonfire that London has become. Perhaps equalise funding around the country a bit more and London will stop swelling like a teenage ballbag. Northerners can stop whingeing about having to go ‘up (?) London’ and we’ll have to hear less about how fucking tremendous Yorkshire is. Wensleydale and the whippet. Ee by bleeding gum.

It’s the hurrying that gets me. There’s a common fallacy that 21st century life is faster than ever, and that we all need to be haring about in some permanent recreation of Die Hard With a Vengeance. Why? Whatever it is you’re racing towards won’t save you.

Often, the things we speed at with reckless skittishness are the most boring things in our lives. Meetings are the main villain; if you’re the type who’s often late to meetings, does it not strike you it’s your brain telling you it doesn’t want to go? If you’re also the type who’s on time to the pub, you must pay these warning signs as much heed as you would blood in your stool.

Many mornings I’ve found myself on a London Underground platform, marvelling at the person who sees a Tube train packed like an Amazon parcel van but who still thinks they need to insert themselves into the three quarters of a square metre the other passengers were hoping to reserve for breathable air. There’s a board up there mate, says the next train’s in one fucking minute. What will getting there a minute earlier, smelling of armpit, actually achieve? If you’re worried about the sack for that, your bigger worry should probably be that huge coronary coming down the tracks.

There’s always another train. Well, nearly always; if we’d missed a recent departure on holiday we’d have been waiting two days for the next one. But that journey in itself is a fine example: nearly 11 hours on a train, by choice. Could have shaved half that off with a bus, but what for? Enjoying life slowly trundling by at 20mph is one of life’s great pleasures.

Yes it was a holiday, but I do the same at home. I’ll leave early and walk whenever I can – this afternoon I need to be somewhere (read: pub) at 6pm, so I’ll be leaving here at two, getting the Tube halfway and walking for a couple of hours because I intend to make full use of my current status as a workshy recalcitrant. If I’m early I’ll find a bench (read: have a pint). I don’t have any control over the vast, vast majority of things that happen in the world, so why fruitlessly attempt to make any of them happen sooner by zooming about like the Roadrunner on ‘roids?

HS2 is a symptom of the hurrying sickness infecting 21st century life. Will shaving an hour off northern journeys here and there mean people are allowed to spend their shortened trip watching the world whizz by? Or will it just mean they have to get their presentations done and emails sent that much quicker? Oh hell I really need to get these figures off to Geoff in finance before…wait, is that bloke over there just looking out the window? How can he waste his time like that? There’s wifi on here! What a mug! My arm hurts.

Slow life down. Slacken your pace. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

Never truer than when that journey ends in Leeds.

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