I live a few yards from the river, so I’m tempted now and again to grab one of those “Flood” signs that litter the highways in random fashion and put it at the bottom of our road. It wouldn’t do any good, but then I have never come across a “Flood” sign where there actually is a flood, so I would be doing it out of compassion for the sign: at least at the bottom of our road it would be within sight of water.
Happily, as I’m about 40 feet above the river, there isn’t much chance of my house being flooded unless the drains pack up, or a waterfall hurtles down out of the Old Library Wood. It never has, but you never know.
There is however a flood in Norwich as I write. It does not involve water: it is a flood of signs. Some people might say it was a flood of road works, and it would be hard to disagree. One leads to the other, of course, just as a warming of the atmosphere leads to an increase of carbon dioxide in it.
Road works are hard things to contend with unless you’re a cyclist, in which case everything will be made easy for you. But the signs erected by the authorities are aimed at drivers.
They have a lovely, standard sign that says ROAD CLOSED AHEAD. What it hardly ever says is how far ahead, or whether it’s the road going straight ahead that’s shut, or the one going off to the left at the next junction. This leads to credibility problems, with some cynical car drivers proceeding until they actually reach the barrier across the road, and then going back, or trying a last-minute side road that turns out to be a cul de sac.
Stupid? It would be, except that sometimes you can in fact get through, and maybe it’s not that road that’s shut anyway…
On the way back to Norwich on the A11 the other evening, we were diverted off the main road because they were about to do some pretty drastic work on it – involving a bridge, I believe. We followed the DIVERSION signs until they petered out and we found ourselves back on the A11 – going in the opposite direction. I still don’t know where we were supposed to go, but thanks to years of driving round Norfolk as part of my job I was able to undertake an innovative one-off diversion of my own and add only 20 minutes to my journey.
But if you want to while away a summer afternoon, I suggest you walk round Norwich following the DIVERSION signs. I would be interested to know where you end up. Practically everywhere in the city is part of a diversion, and halfway through one diversion you often find yourself embroiled in another one. They may or may not fit together.
A few days ago I couldn’t help noticing that as you came away from the rail station along Riverside there were two large signs warning ROAD CLOSED AHEAD and THORPE ROAD CLOSED. Since there was no right turn into Thorpe Road anyway, the sign was totally superfluous, not to say confusing.
But of course I’m being picky. Could I do better? Possibly. Some people say there are people in City Hall and County Hall whose main aim in life is to make life more difficult for motorists, but I couldn’t possibly comment.