I started doing talks following a suggestion from a friend, in an attempt to publicize Henry’s Trials. Now I also speak about Thomas Smethurst, as well as on the lesser known aspects of Brunel’s life and work.
It is certainly gratifying when the audience respond well, as they did yesterday, but the drive to South Woodford for the last mile or so, was a nightmare, with the traffic crawling at snail’s-pace in the rush-hour. I suppose people put up with extreme traffic congestion because they have no alternative. I do wonder though; do people really want to spend half an hour - 3% of their precious waking hours - travelling two miles in a car under the most frustrating conditions?
I spoke to the people at the U3A about it, and they said that it was the same every day. One person commented that it was the school-run that was responsible. It is certainly difficult to blame parents for transporting their children to school, given the volume of traffic on the roads today and endemic fears about child-molesters. It is a pity, because I remember at the age of eight or nine going on the 65 bus, on my own, to school. The bus journey took 15 minutes and involved crossing the main road. Of course people looked out for children then, and were able to give assistance to a distressed child with no danger of being accused of paedophilia.