Short Fiction: Breaking News, Part Six

My dear Readers, I am often asked “What news of Oxford, friend?!” Well, I thought it about time to move slightly slightly from my own humble and blessed scrawlings to offer up an answer to this very question. Here, I present a rising star amongst Oxford’s Glitterati, writing in a local publication I discovered folded underneath the leg of a wobbly wooden table at the university’s esteemed museum of antiquity, in the basement eatery known as the Dank Cafe.
Enjoy! That’s all I will say, read on and enjoy, you are very welcome, it’s been no great trouble, consider this one, on me.

CAR BAN OR CARBON?
As anyone familiar with the sprawling shanty town of Oxford, in southerly central England knows, we are the world leaders in traffic congestion. Los Angeles? Give-us-all-a-break! Shanghai? A mere tootle around Toyland. The dodgems of Rome and Paris? The famous Delhi welli? No, not if you combined the entire list, would you get within spittoon distance of the plight Oxfordian’s experience, each and every single day of their lives.
Recent social media attention, surprisingly, is accurate and true! The ‘road situation’, as it is referred to, means visitors have practically ceased to arrive here. According to the last count-up of statistics compiled by the Classified Central Government Information Service, reports indicate numbers lower than figures recorded in the early part of the 20th century. Ironically, this coincides with the period in history dating back to just before the mass production of civilian vehicles entered full swing.
I caught up with one former expert on the subject, on his regular walk through each of the ancient university parks. Reduced to a single mantra, he robotically quotes meticulously calligraphed black ink writing from the sandwich board he now wears: “The full circle has cometh!”
It is measurable to actually see how far we have come, when members of the public are witnessed openly agreeing with “Professor Bonkers”, as he is affectionately referred to. This, despite his close resemblance to an aged version of a caveman, from a low-budget 1960’s British film I have in mind. I saw many of them myself, these individuals, commonly spotted with phone cameras held aloft, cheek-to-cheek, a ‘thumbs-up’ gesture, smiling and laughing with the trouserless old man.
A motion tabled by the council in recent days, looks to enforce a ban, proposing an as yet ill-defined and tactlessly named ‘Total Exclusion Zone’ for all motorised vehicles, with introduction set for 20 18. Although details are sketchy at present, it is believed the ban will extend to include bicycles by 20 21. The Oppositional Party are seeking an amendment to encompass the prohibition of all bikes with child trailers “…within the next 28 days.” Sources close to senior officials say this is likely to meet with approval, with the Lord Mayor expected to rubber stamp the decree, within the next 72 hours.
When asked what will happen to anyone in breach of the ban, the same senior official is reported to have replied: “I suggest you do not doubt us! Vee have our vays.” At which point, with a click of his heels, the representative retreated behind the large oak doors of the Jacobethan town hall, locking them with a large key seen dangling from a chain attached to the belt of his pinstripes.
Public opinion appears divided between apathy and fanatical hysteria, with little hope for a middle ground emerging. Hospitals have issued a joint statement, urging residents to “Keep taking the medicine.”
On the international stage, the Estonian president has cancelled her planned trip, quoted as saying “The prospect of closer trade relations with Oxford, has today been irreparably damaged.”
In reply, the head woman for the town council Heather Headwoman insisted, “We don’t really care, to be honest.”
Other cities around the world are watching the current course of events unfolding, with differing degrees of interest. A spokesgirl for the world read a statement to the gathered media pack earlier this morning, in which she mentioned the new shopping mall as good enough reason to walk into Oxford.
She might be right, I’m not sure, but what I am sure about is that we will certainly all see if she is right, soon enough!

credits: journalist Jan Futchinell
#roadsituation

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