by Ricky Adam

Discarded bottles of urine found along Britain’s best known motorway the M1 – Photographed over 3 years 2015 – 2017 over the 193 mile route between London & Leeds.

The M1 is the vagus nerve that links our heads to our guts.
From our brains to the enteric system’s ‘little brain’ in our digestive tracts.

This motorway starts a new era in road travel. It is in keeping with the bold new scientific age in which we live’  Ernest Marples, opening the M1 in 1962.

This road has connected every stage of my life, from my childhood, hurtling through the night, flung between the West Midlands and West Yorkshire, impromptu escapes from the marital home to return to family. Here is the newly mobile family, with two parents never having to quite settle, never quite leaving. Back and forth. Tarmac and concrete expressing the ambivalence of a Welfare State marriage. A modern family, our lives smeared across the six lanes, the promise of escape but the cold reality of traffic jams near Woodall services.

This yellow brick road leading to a new Jerusalem’ Jonathan Glancey, the Guardian

The hire vans lumping music gear and knock-off furniture, exporting the smell and sound of small Leeds terrace houses to other cities – friends and roadies and hangers-on and merch-sellers anaesthetised on Crucial Brew on old mattresses in the back, the long fug of motorway travel, the engine’s discordant drone punctuated by idle chatter, a war of attrition of words, of hyperbole and bollocks, lobbing piss-filled bottles out onto the grassy bankings – those strange spaces piled up by Irish navvies, that are neither ours nor theirs. Our very own territorial pissings.

On this magnificent road the speed which can easily be reached is so great that senses may be numbed and judgement warped’ Marples

A travelogue narrated through bodily effluent. A motorway journey described in the call and response of the full bladder. A British road movie – Two Lane Blacktop and Wild At Heart reduced to a trail of piss-filled plastic bottles. The British road movie – a contradiction in terms. In Britain there is always an ending, it is always finite. Where do we go on Fridays, with Radio One on the tinny stereo, just outside Watford Gap – to the Big Smoke or the North Sea?

And thinking about the sea reminds me I need to piss.

Aiden Winterburn


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