Yesterday at about 1.10pm the Barnstaple Western Bypass bridge opened, and a couple of hours later I drove triumphantly across it, whooping as I went (I was probably about the thousandth car over, but rest assured, in a few years the story will be that I was the first and nearly ran over the Mayor as he cut the ribbon).
We have discussed before the effect of elation that a really good bridge can bring, and although the Barnstaple effort can’t claim to be in the very highest bridging echelons, its opening is significant for North Devon, because it has been discussed, bemoaned, protested against, complained about, complained about for being absent and generally been the subject of local jaw-jaw for as long as anyone can remember.
And there I was at last, swooping majestically over the Estuary. And as I crossed I felt an extraordinary and profound emotion, for which I cannot think of an appropriate word so I will have to coin one. It was a mixture of optimism, of pride in man’s engineering and organisational ingenuity, of a sentimental longing to see what he’ll achieve next, a certain realisation that he is neither Doomed nor Hellbound in a Handcart after all, and a belief that if I was offered the immortality-giving pill, I would take it without hesitation because I don’t want to miss whatever comes next. A kind of nostalgia for the future, if you will. I felt for an instant as Oroborous must feel nearly all the time.
Let’s call it prostalgia. Even if it does sound like an unmentionable disease.
And then, of course, AC Milan beat Liverpool in the Champions League Final, with the Reds being shamefully denied their share of the Fergietime that would certainly have seen them snatch a last-gasp equaliser, and it was back down to earth with a bump.