Sunday, July 5, 2015

July 5. Day 186. A bridge too far

It was just like in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Everyone in Brisbane wanted a golden ticket allowing entry to the Story Bridge for the 75th birthday party. I missed out in each and every one of the official ticket issues but like Charlie won my entry pass when all hope seemed lost.My open call for a spare ticket was answered by a bloke called Geoff who I'd never met, less than an hour before the final session. I was in the cab on the way to meet my knight in shining armour before you could say Willy Wonker.
But really it's a case of be careful what you wish for. Charlie got his golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory and ended up owning the lot. Veruca Salt was attacked in the nut room by squirrels who considered her bad nut and threw her down the garbage chute. I'm afraid  to say that the big party was a public relations disaster. Forty-five minutes after the 90 minute session began crowds were still packed shoulder to shoulder in a human throng trying to make it to the entry gate. I believed that it was like the queue outside the stadium on match day. Once you'd passed the turnstiles, the bottle neck would pass and you'd be able to move freely. It didn't happen. For almost all of the length of the bridge it was a slow, painful shuffle to the point that I genuinely feared what would happen if someone was injured or should a fire break out in one of the food stalls. I have no idea if the cooking equipment was in any danger of overheating because my chance of getting near any one them stuck in the middle of the human  traffic jam was about zero. Any small person in the crowd would have seen nothing but the bum of the person in front of them. Despite all that, the crowd was for the most part well-natured and patient.  I am pleased to have been part of history, it's just a historic chapter I'd be very happy not to relive. If I'd been pushing a pram, trying to keep track of kids or escorting someone elderly or disabled, I'd have been much less philosophical. It's 25 years until the bridge's centenary. Let's hope lessons are learned from this experience. As a wiser man than me said on Facebook "Why do governments insist on marking the anniversaries of vehicular thoroughfares by closing them to traffic?" Fine point. 

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