photo by Steven Kelly
"Sir, sir! Pull in here!"
"It's a passing place, Simpleforth, not a lay-by. The school mini-bus will block it."
"You can't park in a passing place! Why do you want to stop? Do you need a comfort break?"
"No Sir! I just want to work something out."
(Sotto voce) "OMG . . another Simpleforth theory." (Aloud) "Anway . . we've passed the passing place now. If you want to stop we should look for a MacDonald's."
"In this wilderness? Not another vehicle in site horizon to horizon. No MacDonalds, petrol stations, herds of antelope, village fetes, burnt out lorries. Nothing. Why do they need a passing place when nothing wants to get past anythng else?"
"You're becoming cryptic again, Simpleforth. And this road would be busy in summer. Tourists in caravans and so on. So what did you want to work out?"
"Well sir, I wondered what would happen if two vehicles travelling in opposite directions both decided to drive courteously and both of them headed into the passing place at the same time and smashed into each other and the drivers got out, and after pointing at each other and at their crashed cars, they started raising their voices . . and then started fighting each other?"
"You have a fine schoolboy imagination, young man. But where is this scenario going?"
"Nothing else can get past now, sir! Because the passing place is blocked."
"Point taken. So?"
"So when the next vehicles travelling in opposite directions arrive, they can't pass each other - "
"Of course not. That's obvious."
" - unless one of them backs-up to the next passing place down, or up, the road. And before they get there, they meet another vehicle travelling in the same but the opposite direction, so to speak."
"Well, sir. Suppose one of them was heading south. To get to the next passing place, it has to head north, but going backwards. And meets another vehicle heading south, but going forwards. Another deadlock. Until the vehicle heading south backs up to the next passing place, but on the way, meets another vehicle . . . "
"Simpleforth, is this where I should bury my face in my hands?"
"Oh no, Sir! The minibus could crash."
"So what exactly is your point?'
"Well Sir, if two vehicles crash head-on in a passing place, pretty soon you have a situation where the line of vehicles that was heading south is now going north backwards looking for a passing place and another line going . . "
"Alright, Simpleforth. I follow your argument. So what should we conclude?"
"Well sir, how about - Passing Places are not a good way of getting vehicles past each other and better to just widen the roads."
"Now why didn't I think of that?"
I am indebted to a fellow blogger (No.16) whose inspirational haiku was the inspiration for this effort. Thank you, Horseman.