Spaghetti Junction by Kevin Murphy


After September’s Meeting which focussed on “Plot”, using Ted Hughes Poem “The Thought Fox”, with it’s triple plot possibibilities:

  • Describe a Fox
  • Describe Writer’s Block
  • Metaphor – describe two things at once

I decided to upload a story which is wholly metaphor.

Some hate metaphor: “Why can’t people just say it like it is?”

I love metaphor. Do let me know what you think about this little piece.

Spaghetti Junction

Mine is the generation that crossed the bridge from innocent fumblings, guilty secrets, mysterious pregnancies, virgin births, shotgun marriages and worse.

 Mine is also the generation of Gravelly Hill Interchange, but just as we were ignorant of our destination, we didn’t know how far or how long we were to travel, or even our direction. We didn’t even know the proper name of the bridge. Some were forgiven for not even realising we were on a bridge as they were simply going with the flow. We were wholly unprepared.

This new sort of bridge offered so many possibilities, even oblivion – it included a road to nowhere – unfinished dead ends for possible future additional exits. How many of us were lemmings and fell?
For the first time, our bridge did not lead simply from one place to another, and let us not forget the undoubted possibility of return to the original place, or for that matter that each side had an equal call on being the starting point. Not a Capital Bridge crossing the Thames, to be admired for its ornate cast iron filigree – a wonder of its age, or discounted for its utilitarian box girders, or again gasped at for its towering medieval stonework, itself hiding secret engines that opened the gateway to the greatest empire in the world.

Picture my generation at the foot of the bridge, as the throng gathering for the start of the London Marathon. But though we might ask each other where we started, we only conjecture where others finished, never asking where, or even when. We might have a wry smile thinking whether or not one may still not have finished, maybe tempered with sadness at the certain knowledge of ones who certainly did not.

Unlike a Marathon, some were not at the opening of the bridge, indeed such was the buzz of excitement that many were too early, so set off into perilous territory, with no signs or barriers, falling in canals and locks, tripping on rails, cut down by the impatient express. For risking this trip, there was no sympathy at Casualty for the injured and maimed.

Parents warned against entering a bridge when you couldn’t see the other side. A bridge, a proper bridge, needed a foot on each side – and only two sides at that. A generation from war, they knew about burning our bridges. But this was a wonder of the age – many entries and an infinite variety of exits. The bridge was to be a journey in itself: in and out, over, under, across, through; sexy rolling curves, slipping and sliding bends and whorls; steady climbs and easy descents; twists, turns and no tumbles – no one gets hurt. Cleverly we could all be assured that we would not crash into anything coming from the other side.

A hazard the planners had not anticipated, what was not foreseen was if a traveller did not like what they saw as the other side hove into view. Their only option appeared to be to reverse, only to be trampled, the trippers to be flattened in their turn.

Travel sickness was thought of too: many new preparations were available, tried and untested, just right for this magical mystery journey. People looked over from the tops and admired the view, not knowing what they were seeing: mesmerised by circles within circles, disappearing and reappearing, over glistening waters, ribbons of rail. Leaning over too far, thinking they could fly. They never knew that they could not. They joined others who had simply been barged off the parapet in the rush.

In quiet midnight carousing, it has been asked if there maybe lost souls who never made it across, who now haunt the bridge, but they are never seen, for this has become a daylight bright, twenty-four-seven bridge, the only way to get through.

No need to ask how many of us are haunted.

Then there was the one and only cure-it-all Pill, a pill that needed no sugaring, such was its promise. That was the real key to the gateway to our Brave New World. With it we could rock and roll throughout the crossing with complete impunity. It was an ‘Access All Areas’ ticket, indeed it allowed excess in all areas for the very first time.

Subsequent generations give no second thought to such wonders of the age. It’s not a wonder of their ages. They swing on and off with never a care. You’ve got to go places, find the promise at the end of the tendrils. But there is no end for them, just one marvel leading to another, but no longer a marvel.

There was a destination. We knew where we were going. We knew who was going with us – euphorically ‘everybody’. That is not the same as an end to our trip. We ignore the flashbacks, forget the nightmares and, like every generation of its past, wonder at the age – our age.

We do go back, returning, turning again, trying different turns – getting it right this time; sometimes a journey only of the mind. There really is no going back. The start is no longer there.
Many hanker after the simple single span bridge with its known and desired destination. Yes there are many of these beneath Gravelly Hill Interchange, below, even buried in the darkness and roar from the overarching future.

They will not go back though. Ignorance is this, it’s not bliss, but it’s better than the ignorance we think was there, in the good old days before we set foot on Spaghetti Junction.
But we can’t remember that.

A whole generation made that crossing, but still we joke that if you can remember that first crossing you weren’t there.

Kevin Murphy

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One thought on “Spaghetti Junction by Kevin Murphy

  1. This was an interesting look into the wonders felt at seeing and using the new Spaghetti Junction. I was particularly interested to learn, of all things, that Spaghetti Junction is just a nickname for the Gravelly Hill Interchange. When has anybody ever called it that?
    I was confused by the reference to preparations for travel sickness.
    On the whole, this was easily readable, but gave yhe reader much to ponder over.

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