The horrors of Watford Gap, recounted in the ballad of the Bank Holiday driver

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The Independent Online
AS REGULAR readers will know, I am a great collector of motorway ballads - those forms of verse dealing with all aspects of life on the motorway.

I got the following traditional ballad from the lips of a morose old gentleman who had walked over the bridge to the southbound side of the Michael Wood service area and couldn't find his way back.

As it deals with the horrors of holiday traffic, it couldn't appear on a better day.

Who is this figure all forlorn,

Setting out at crack of dawn,

Flashing his lights and sounding his horn?

It is the Bank Holiday driver!

Up he got at unearthly hour,

Had a quick shave, had a quick shower,

Now his breath is stale and his mouth is


On this Bank Holiday Monday.

Heading towards the distant coast,

After a cup of tea and toast,

"I'll be there before ten!" is the boast,

Of the Bank Holiday driver.

But ten o'clock comes and ten o'clock goes,

And now the traffic barely flows,

And when he'll get there goodness knows,

On Bank Holiday Monday.

With furrowed brow and heavy lids,

Sullenly round the corner he skids,

For he has got a wife and kids,

Has the Bank Holiday driver.

His wife is rotten at reading the map,

A child has dropped a drink in his lap,

And there's a long queue at the Watford


For the doomed Bank Holiday driver.

They're off to the sea for a bit of fun,

Getting up early to seek the sun,

And so, I'm afraid, is everyone,

On this Bank Holiday Monday.

The weather droops, the clouds pile up,

The wife wants to stop for another cup,

There's a smell in the back. Oh dear. It's

the pup

Of the Bank Holiday driver.

Ah, who is this figure grey and grim,

Whose nostril hair deserves a trim,

(And whose greying locks could do with a


Yes, I think you've guessed it's him -

It's the Bank Holiday driver...

"It can't be solid all the way..."

"It'll clear up later on today..."

This is what all the drivers say,

On Bank Holiday Monday

"The forecast said it would be fine,

So sooner or later the sun will shine"

- that's another favourite line

Of the Bank Holiday driver.

Who is the traveller, grey and grim,

Driving two hundred miles for a swim?

I think we should all feel sorry for him.

The poor Bank Holiday driver.

What is this life if full of care,

We cannot park when we get there,

- No flaming parking space anywhere,

On Bank Holiday Monday!

What is this life if full of cars,

We never get the change to pass,

- Are all these people tourists from


On Bank Holiday Monday?

Oh, who is this figure bent with care,

Shielding his eyes from the motorway glare,

Suffering from damp underwear,

Sticking to his derriere,

Offering up a silent prayer,

For a transport plan from Tony Blair,

Is it you or me? - Au contraire!

It's the Bank Holiday driver!

"We never found a place to park,

We never got home till after dark,

Sod this all for a blooming lark!"

Says the Bank Holiday driver.

So all you motorists listen to me,

Don't go driving down to the sea,

And avoid the certain misery,

Of Bank Holiday Monday.

When it comes to Bank Holiday morn,

Don't go out and lean on your horn,

- Stay at home and mow the lawn,

Next Bank Holiday Monday!