The Motorway Service Station As A Destination In Its Own Right
Ambiguity of Purpose
The passage of time on the motorway can be very monotonous and time consuming, the relentless drive from A to B, the never-ending horizon, and the constant blurring of the landscape, with the only respite coming in the form of the service station. Much needed and opportune for the basic functions of sustenance, they offer little in the way of nourishment for the soul. Vernacular in their homogenisation and brutal functionality, however geographically isolated, they offer a snapshot of the world and the transience and loneliness imbued within this. The throngs of people milling around, the occasional glance, the inevitable queuing, but no real conversation or interaction only accentuate the isolation and loneliness of such places. Simon Armitage refers to the “implicit loneliness of car parks and cars”, and this becomes very poignant to the modern service station as metaphor for the human condition.
The loneliness of the journey by motorway is akin to the journey through life. Always filled with anticipation, the prospect of the motorway journey always seems greater than the reality that ensues. The constant roar of traffic, glancing out of the window to catch a glimpse of people passing, and taking relish at those you overtake, the reality is a feeling of being static and motionless, broken up by those all important breaks at service stations and a vague feeling of normality in a hinterland of the unreal and unwelcoming. All alone on our personal journeys, unsure of what lies ahead, and immune to the dangers that often surround us, it is often easy to forget how quickly time passes us by, and in the blink of an eye the journey comes to an end.