North from London, the M1 eats up the miles, through Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire, but it's in this last county that the price starts to be paid.
The sensible driver might have rested at Scratchwood* services just outside the capital, to gather strength and to acclimatise to this strange environment - but few of us are that sensible.
*Recently, unnecessarily, renamed "London Gateway Services". Who're they trying to kid?So, seventy miles of high-speed driving - dodging the stupid, the bloody-minded, the suicidal, trying to maintain concentration on the unchanging track, eternally aware of the fallibility of machinery, the contraflows, the lane closures, that suspicious something in the engine noise - saps the driver's spirit, anæsthetises the brain, desiccates the eyes.
Lorries start to shimmer with malicious intent, flash speedsters taunt the competitive instinct, sluggards incite apoplexy, or else empty tarmac hypnotises and slumber beckons. The driver no longer controls the machine. He is one.