Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Martyrs to the causeway

Regular readers will remember that, last month, a total of eight vehicles were stranded on the causeway that links Mersea Island to the rest of Essex after trying to cross at high tide.

But if you thought the resulting publicity would deter any would-be Canutes from recreating the scenario with this month's spring tides, you obviously have rather too much faith in human intelligence:
The Mersea Coastguard team was on a routine patrol when it came across a Ford Fiesta partly submerged on the Strood on Friday.
And there's more...
The previous day a 4x4 and Toyota van were stuck on the causeway that links Colchester to Mersea Island and the police towed both vehicles to safety.
At least it was the police that time; the coastguard (and, on other occasions, the RNLI) have quite enough to do with keeping Darwin award hopefuls out of trouble on the water without having to sort out motorists as well.

It would be interesting to know something about these drivers who fail to grasp the significance of the terms 'tidal causeway' and, for that matter, 'island'. I doubt, somehow, that locals would get caught in this way (though I might be wrong).

A quick trawl through comments on the subject at the Gazette suggests that the Romford Navy may be well represented among the stranded motorists, which, as well as offering an agreeable sense of Schadenfreude, sounds quite plausible; anyone whose idea of fun is driving for 90 minutes up the A12 to blast around on a jest-ski is surely more likely than most to consider himself superior to the laws of nature.

Whoever they are, their persistence in the face of unprecedented tide table availability and local news coverage suggests that, despite the media storm that greeted his opinion last week, Professor Gerald Crabtree may have a point when he says that human intelligence is in decline because a lack of it is no longer fatal:
"the need for intelligence was reduced as we began to live in supportive societies that made up for lapses of judgment or failures of comprehension."


  1. Great title.

    I can't imagine doing something like this, but I'm sure some people just don't believe nature could be so nasty to them.

  2. Very true, AKH; as a manifestation of a misplaced sense of entitlement and self-importance, it takes some beating.

  3. As a regular reader, I ask; "What has changed?"

    And as you say: "Very little."

  4. ".. human intelligence is in decline because a lack of it is no longer fatal.."

    Alas, I fear the Darwin Awards will always be with us!

  5. JH I have no doubt it will continue for the foreseeable future; as for lights and barriers, level crossings have shown us that they don't prevent the truly arrogant and reckless even when the consequences are potentially horrific.

    Julia, I stand corrected; that was careless of me. Perhaps it should have read '... a lack of it is less likely these days to prove fatal.'