Taking one of our daughters to a concert, the TomTom made references to the Magic Roundabout as part of its advised route. Other Half and I glanced at each other: why was it named after a 60’s children’s television programme? And if nothing to do with that, well, mushrooms were the only other thing I could think of with a ‘Magic’ prefix and I felt certain there would be no link or association. Road planners wouldn’t dare, would they? How on earth could they define this roundabout as ‘magic’? Even our daughters looked up from their devices.
We didn’t have to wait long. It’s called The Magic Roundabout because it’s not just one, it involves a cluster. I don’t like driving, so it was enough to bring on my own personal brain meltdown, just looking at it. Not for the faint hearted.
Multi mini roundabouts- five actually; set inside a larger, sixth roundabout. Four roads converge to arrive at these whirly hells, with the outer one working in a clockwise direction, the inner working anti-clockwise. From above the scene can’t look dissimilar to planets in a multi-solar system. Except they’re not. They’re a different kind of shrapnel and much closer to home. They’re fucking cars. And they’re coming at you.
I found the whole experience disturbing to observe as a passenger. Reading some comments made a couple of years ago on a web page dedicated to it, Andrew from Wiltshire said, “…you approach it with some apprehension…” Hmm. Clearly taking the pedestrian route way down into the bowels of the understated. He also made a reference to the manner in which he believes, one would approach it, ‘As you are going slow…’?? Well, perhaps you are taking it slowly if you’re a ‘blow-in’, the rest, I’m afraid, are just plain coming at you.
It looked like those who were familiar with this roundabout- proficient Swindonians- were drive-raging like curved balls, literally and metaphorically, creating a culture that seems capable of stunning ‘Magic Virgins’ into disorientation; so much so that newbies could not possibly feel comfortable knowing where cars would actually emerge from, despite the golden rule fed to us courtesy of the highway code. It felt like there were no warnings; cars were sneaking in stealthily, curving and swerving, pip-ping you to your destination. It really felt like that- like they had finished manoeuvre three while you’re still undertaking one. Cheryl from Swindon was advised when she moved into the area, to “…close your eyes and drive straight ahead…which appears to work most of the time.” I’ll remember that next time. I’ll also remember to never, ever come this way, ever again. Ever.
It was also my observation that in fact, the truly disadvantaged and vulnerable to accidents and near misses at these Whirly Gigs, (apologies Whirl-y-Giggers, to associate yourselves in a discussion regarding town planning), are the ones who know the system extremely well- they have to negotiate the inexperience and the timid all the time.
Take the Bumper cars at the fairground, who are the ones that cause all the crashes and road blocks? It’s those that can’t control their cars and who have no idea which direction they’re supposed to be travelling in.
Whichever way you look at it, the devil is definitely in the detail. Anti-Christ cars coming at you or meteorites giving it large, speeding through galaxies and the universe? Very complex, very stressful. Thank God for hubby.
Life and the questions and answers surrounding our existence lie within the nano, the gigantic and the infinite. Shit so difficult to grasp most times, but Man’s strive to draw meaning is always strong. The Magic Roundabout is forty squiddly years in existence and boasts of fewer accidents than it really should have on record, but, but…was this a dimension really worth exploring on the roads? I still feel traumatised.