The Magic Roundabout: why anxiety shouldn’t stop us learning

Othmar's Trombone

“I have had enough, I just want to get out
Let me off o’ this English roundabout”

So sang new wavers XTC on their 1982 album, English Settlement. The song, ‘English Roundabout‘, was inspired by the famous Magic Roundabout in Swindon. Less a roundabout, more a maelstrom of white lines; it looks like this:

Magic Roundabout, Swindon

If you’ve ever attempted to traverse this concrete vortex, you’ll be well aware that one must do so whilst ceremonially repeating the incantation: ‘Omigodomigodomigodomigod‘, before endeavouring to leave the intersection. In some cases, one might have to re-enter the roundabout and repeat the ritual a number of times before the correct exit is finally negotiated. It’s such a dizzying experience that XTC weren’t actually the first to write about it – W.B. Yeats famously documented his (second) attempt at conquering it, chronicling the suffering he witnessed through the windscreen of his old Ford Falcon:

Turning and turning in the widening…

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