Monday, 26 October 2009

The Origin of the Roundabouts

Roundabouts or rotaries (or traffic circles to give them their full latin name) are an amazing species. I live in England where they roam freely in great herds. Most especially, I live in Stevenage which is a designated zone of Special Scientific Interest and a Conservation area for the roundabout. Stevenage is to the roundabout what the Galápagos Islands are Galápagos Green Turtle or the Invisible Zebra.

Now if roundabouts were cute and fluffy, we'd be beating the naturalists and their film crews back with sticks. They're not. If they were exciting, aggressive or poisonous books would be written about them. Sillier naturalists would be poking them with sticks. They are slow moving, so slow most say they don't move at all. And neglected. We know so little of the life of a roundabout.

After many years of careful observation I believe the humble roundabout starts as the cute mini-roundabout like this one:

Development must be fast, because you never see a roundabout that is too small for a car to go around (even in Stevenage). A fully formed mini-roundabout must be born and grow in just a single night and move itself into the middle of the road to feed on the fumes and tyre-rubber of passing cars.

A theory that also plays on my mind, but I have all but discounted now, is the priciple of "budding" like yeasts. A single roundabout splits and forms a double roundabout. After a brief period of co-habiting the same road junction and once sufficient bits of car light, broken glass and detached paintwork have accumulated the "budded" one shifts off to it's own road junction.

Clearly there are some issues with competion with traffic lights, and this is an area of separate study. A roundabout is clearly a stronger and more virulent species and will often displace a family unit of traffic lights to take the precious land of the road junction. The traffic lights can briefly be found huddling by road works, before passing on to other lands.

There is a further theory, that roundabouts are not a form of life at all, but rather are the end points of wormholes in space, one clockwise and the other counter-clockwise, that allow the passage of white vans, tractors and invalid carrages to the road directly in front of you. This theory is clearly rubbish and should be discounted from the minds of any right thinking conservationist. It is simply paranoia.

Anyhow, listen out tonight for the squealing noises of wheels, for this is the cleverly disguised call of the roundabout. They speak to each other. They do. Honestly.


  1. I was caught in a roundabout vortex when trying to drive in Great Britain about 20 years ago. It was so traumatic, I never attempted driving there again. Now the dreaded roundabout is beginning to show up here in the states. Just when I thought it was safe to go out!

  2. And of course there is the megabout, a fine example of this sub species is to be found at the bottom of the hill into Hemel Hempstead where it presumably stopped rolling. A mass budding of eight conjoined roundabouts forms a megabout. Travellers have vanished in its clutches and others disappeared for months, only to be returned in the dark of night, often to a nearby megabout off the M40 at Uxbridge. This tends to suppoort the theory about wormholes but weve already been told thats nonsense by idifficult who is never incorrect about these things.

  3. i love this commentary. perhaps next you could explain the famous "michigan" turn - which i hear you are beginning to see in your country. though i'd sooner turn left here than there thank you. =)

  4. Perhaps with huge amounts of government funding we might investigate the notorious Roundabout Nursery in Milton Keynes?

  5. Great read!
    When solitary they are relatively harmless, but when united they become quite boisterous, encouraging us to take chances when there is no need, with the intent of causing 'accidents' for them to feed from, or simply to prove their might by causing break downs of a mental nature. A good example of this is in Canvey Island, Essex.


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