So yesterday heralded the opening of the new Cambridge bypass road.
Having been under construction for a good year-and-a-half or so (and finished six months ahead of estimated completion), all the townsfolk were fizzing for the new road’s opening. The local newspaper even distributed leaflets within its feel-good pages (honestly if you ever want to feel warm and fuzzy just hustle a copy of the Cambridge Edition, the stories within will lift your spirits and lighten any heavy heart) detailing that on Decmeber 15 (i.e, yesterday) the road would be opened for all and sundry to cycle, run or walk it before vehicles took to it this morning.
Well! What festivities! The event kicked off at 3pm and by the time Deb and I headed on over at 6.44pm the road was a run with people. There were food vans serving delicious delicacies (even Mr Softy the ice cream man was in attendance with soft serves and hotdogs galore), a blow up bouncy castle slide, even two helicopters offering outrageously low prices for a flit along the skyline.
Deb and I donned our walking gear to trek along the new road (cursing ourselves as we saw many others flying by on bicycles; “Why didn’t we mountain?” We wailed). There were people everywhere; all ages, all kinds, indulging in churro cones and kumara fries as kids begged a balloon man to “please make me a monster truck” (poor sod. I think his skills only stretched to a very questionable poodle). The vibe was fab, the energy fantastic; just one of those community events where smiles shone all round.
This morning I leapt into Betsy Hay and tuned into ZM as per my usual mornig routine (my loyalties lie across two stations, I must admit; Fletch, Vaughn and Megan giving me gigs in the AM, with Guy, Sharyn and Clint having me chuckle on the way home). But this morning, I ’twas not laughing along; one of the announcers was saying how his sister (a fellow Cambridgean) had also attended the road opening last night, and his Facebook newsfeed had been inundated with photos of his nieces and nephews standing on the all-exciting road with their faces painted.
“Why would anyone go the opening of a road?” He said. “I mean, what’s the appeal? I guess maybe in a small town like Cambridge, it’s quite the excitement. Or are they that small? I mean, they have a KFC.”
Well. I was straight on the old blower (well, year-old iPhone) to inform the trio that not only did the Town of Trees and Champs have a KFC, it also had a 24/7 McDonalds that had been up and running for a year, a rumoured Burger Fuel in the pipeline for 2016 and – get this – had had its first traffic light installed in line with the bypass road’s turn off for the valedrome. (I must say, once I would’ve been on their side with how I felt about old C-town but what can I say? The place has grown on me). (Quite literally in fact; when my clan relocated here it held a population of about 16,000 people, which has now risen to.. I’m unsure. But it’s risen. A lot. Straight to Wikipaedia when back in wifi).
Unfortunately, by the time I got through the conversation had moved on to a new subject line (winners of Masterchef NZ in an interview; I mean Cripes almighty, the triumphant two are bloody 21 and 23. I’m already feeling a bit besides myself with Ed Sheeran being 24; can two girls from my own homeland who are younger than me please not be cavorting around with 100 thousand dollars and the talks of a new cookbook in cahoots?) and the lovely lady nicely but firmly said she’d pass on my message to FV&M.
“I will tell them Cambridge now has a traffic light,” she sighed. “And that Mr Softy, a South African cuisine food truck AND a churros van were there last night too. AND about the Burger Fuel.”
But I didn’t trust her to pass on my information.
Whilst off for a trot I went along a back walkway and saw trucks and the like whizzing along the new road. I quickly dialled Deb.
“Mate,” I said. (Sometimes when excitement gets the better of me I refer to all around in such terminology as “mate”, “bud” or – the much favoured – “bastard”. “The road’s open. Pick me up and let’s rock along it.” (“Rock” being the operative word here; Deb has taken to only playing the Rod Stewart Christmas album in the Rav, so we had to do the cruise along to mistletoe and wine melodies).
After a brief spell of wrong turns and, “How the fuck do we get on the expressway?”‘s, we found ourselves on the correct tarmac. “Wow,” we said in wonderment as we passed through the middle of what used to be a school friend of mine’s home. “Isn’t it incredible!”
Then I caught myself. We were driving along a road. Last night, we’d gone to the opening of a road. I started to feel a little bit silly fawning over the just laid gravel and freshly painted median strips. Could FV&M have a point?
Then we turned off and I was acquainted with our town’s first traffic light. Flashing ruby red before flicking to a go green, it glistened like an opal in a king’s crown. (Cambridge being the Town of Trees and Champs, you see. So kiiiiiiiiiiind of royalty).
All qualms about my fizzing over the construction’s finishing evaporated instantly. Fuck yes, this IS exciting, I told myself.
Then snapped a pic for the ZM FB page. “For you, FV&M,” I wrote. “So you don’t get left out of the festivities.”
An aside: as of 2015, Cambridge now had a population of 19,200 (yoo zaaaaaaah!).