Thoughts of the M1

There’s always a feeling of dread as we’re planning and embarking on a kayaking weekend away. Luckily our chair and deep thinker Kate has some thoughts on how to make your journey a little less stressful and more relaxing. The key question is what do you think about when you’re chugging up long stretches of the M1 in a 50 zone, concentrating on the slow car in front of you and the heavy goods vehicle tailgating you from behind. The answer for most of us would be to contemplate what’s in our to-do list, or what rivers we might be able to run, or who we’d like to bunk with.

Apparently this is where we’re going wrong. It’s all about letting the mind drift, just a little, to achieve the right state of meditation. Instead of thinking about what’s been bothering you up to that point, stare out the window and fixate on something near you. That might be a goat in a field, which would draw you back to thoughts of all the wonderful goats you’ve encountered in your lifetime and get you reminiscing about those gorgeous goats the Guardian published a few years back. It might be about the many traffic cones your likely to pass on the miles of unmanned roadworks. You’ll think about how they’re all so similar and then you’ll remember you’ve seen a blue and yellow one before, and maybe a pink one. Why could this be? Perhaps they are owned by different municipal bodies? Perhaps they mean something??

Or you could contemplate how darn beautiful the bridges of the M1 are. Not all of them mind. But there are those on the section between junctions 9 and 16 which remain in tact from the early days of Britain’s motorway developments which represent an “understated but attractive” design. With circular columns, gently sloping feet and beveled edges you’ll see a plain and simple design but look closer and closer at each passing one and remark on how much detail there is to be seen. How pleasing is that ridging on the underside?

They are a very smart piece of design — understated but attractive, though they have the ability to look overly chunky in the wrong light. They must have looked stunning when the concrete was new and white.

To the rest of us we’ll be stuck in our heads introspecting our upcoming problems and just seeing concrete block after concrete block, but the detail is in the eye of the beholder. Dare to look deeper.