Saturday, March 14, 2009

Road Traffic Accident

A few weeks ago, on a nearby stretch of road, I noted a dented lamppost, surrounded by flowers and a plethora of little wooden crosses. The reason for this, it seems, far from being some sort of new lamppost cult, as you might expect, is that a car had hit the thing and killed some, if not all, of its contents in the process. The various bit and bobs were therefore to commemorate the event.

Interestingly, last week, on this same stretch of road, just a few yards further on, I noticed another lamppost, almost equally dented, and with another load of flowers and crosses round it. My initial reaction that they'd run out of space round the first lamppost and so had decided to mutilate a second and similarly bedeck it as a sort of memento mori - had to be re-evaluated in light of new facts:

What had actually happened here, according to the local papers, is that there'd been a second fatal accident. Now, of course, some people in the area are complaining that this previously blameless road is an accident black spot, that speed restrictions should be brought in, and that loads of speed cameras and whatever else should be put up all along the length to dissuade drivers from travelling much over 30 mph. I, however, think this is a load of fucking nonsense.

To me, what happened is quite clear: The second driver had caught sight of the first lot of crosses, been distracted by them, and during this brief lapse of concentration, had ploughed into the next lamppost, with fatal consequences.

I suppose this sort of problem must have been particularly acute in the Golgotha area of Jerusalem back in Roman times. Whenever some chariot driver got pissed and smashed headlong into Golgotha's base, the Roman administration, as we know from the Gospels, usually stuck some crosses up in memoriam, decorating them with thieves and the occasional Messiah. But, as with St Leonard's Road, this could cause another chariot driver to look up at the sight, lose concentration, and plough into the hill, or into the nearby gate into Jerusalem. Which then meant you'd need another set of crosses, more thieves, and another Messiah to commemorate that particular accident. And so on and so on. It's a good job Jesus could resurrect so easily and thus be re-used. Not so the thieves, unfortunately.

Thinking about it, this fact could have pissed off quite a few people, thieves in particular. Especially when, inevitably and eventually, they noticed that it was always the guy on the middle cross who came back to life. I imagine it led to all sorts of "It's not fair I want to go on that one", "Fuck you this is mine and I'm not moving", and "How come He's got a crown of thorns and I haven't?" arguments. The sight of which, in turn, doubtless led to more road traffic accidents down below.

The whole sorry mess could have been avoided if the Romans had simply put speed bumps down on the road into Jerusalem, of course. But, then again, if they had, there'd most likely have been no Christianity, and so we'd all probably be Muslims by now.

The primary cause of ancient road traffic accidents


K. McEgan. said...

Werent the 2 thieves called Dismas & Tismas?Seems odd.Taking part in historys greatest scene and centuries later some palukah has to think of a name for you.Nice Thief & Nasty Thief.Bloody silly.If they hadnt gone on the rob no cruxifiction.Of course history would ignore them & they would have had MIDLIFE CRISES!

mym said...

Dismas, Tismas, and the one in the middle must be Christmas.