Whenever I come back to the UK from Ireland for work I suffer a mild form of culture shock. Perhaps cultural adjustment is a more appropriate term.

I know you’ve read it before on this blog. The sheer volume of traffic is a problem.

This time I found myself on the M6. Not the Irish M6, that glorious, blissful, never-packed stretch of motorway that speeds folk between the midlands and Galway. No, the UK M6, the 50-year-old main artery from the middle organs to the upper left ventricle in England’s complex circulation system.

How do the Brits get anything done? The traffic was nose to tail, with warnings of 45 minute delays further up the track. I took a diversion, got back on the motorway and discovered the ball of congestion had simply moved further up the road, to where I was heading.

Add to that is the fact that you are in roadworks situations and lane closures for mile upon mile, and even after you turn off and thread your way into Manchester, jewel of the North, the roadworks keep coming.

Of course, the signs had not caught up to the fact that there was a broken down coach in one of the available lanes, which we spent time crawling past.

There are people that spend every day in this. What happens to the national productivity as a result of the cumulative loss of productivity of thousands of individuals? Nothing happens, because the rich and powerful have people come to them or they’re working from a yacht with an impossibly gorgeous view, or else, like the heads of government, they’re being driven around the place so they can get stuff done as they go.

The person that suffers is the rank and file, the regular Joe and Jo who form the labour backbone and who have their commute times lengthened and their free time with their families compressed, all in the name of progress.

Sometimes, I’m glad I can do some of my work at home and on the phone. It keeps the wheels of productivity greased, in case of the occasional roadblock.

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