Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Transport of delight

I have to write a post for the car-sick carnival today, and I can't find a single journey where anyone of us has been sick. Even me. Let me explain... Victoria (It's a Small World After All) put out an APB to all twitter units for a themed post on toddler transport nightmares. Rather foolishly, I volunteered. I say foolishly because, at the time, I had no idea what I would write. I had nothing as toe-curlingly amusing as this, nor anything as dramatic as this. I told Victoria I wasn't able to do sick and she very generously suggested any transport-related trauma was acceptable. But I was still left scratching my head.

Now if that makes it sound as if all our journeys run to plan, are comfortable, carefree and enjoyable, think again. We live in Lincolnshire. They don't have roads in Lincolnshire. Not like they have roads elsewhere in the country. For a start they're all single-carriageway; second they're all speed-restricted either by the tractor you are following or the veg lorry; third, you're likely to be stopped at any moment by the flashing of red lights as half of Britains AWACs or Typhoons depart from one or other of the many air-bases. Or is that just me?

Warming to the theme I decided to consult my diary. I'm rather a sporadic diarist. And somewhat vitriolic too. So any transport chaos would certainly have made it to onto the pages of my journal. Ah yes. At last, a cornucopia of car-related chaos, a torrent of transport traumas. There were the (many) occasions as a London student that I had to be AA-Relayed up the motorway having broken-down again; there were delayed flights to holidays, drunken fellow-passengers and hotel transfers that took us to the wrong hotel. There were the nightmare journeys by car, especially one's without the benefit of air-conditioning. And driving round the Paris peripherique at rush-hour. Oh yes, the words 'journey' and 'terrible' leapt out from almost every page. There was six hours queuing to get into Cornwall in 2006. And six hours queueing to get out again. There were the mini-bus trips to London concerts as a teacher when - thanks to my London driving experience - I ended up driving back from the Royal Albert Hall at midnight.

There was even the four-hour trip to Bournemouth one summer which included the sight of a bare backside as we ate our picnic lunch. And that was one of the better journeys. As I wrote at the time, it was "uneventful apart from the sight of naked buttocks in a lay-by (exposed by the shortest of short skirts, elevated on legs perched on top of red stiletto heels, and topped by an awful artificial blond wig). Had the buttocks been female, it might have been amusing. But it all looked suspiciously like a secret bank-holiday drag queen on a sexual away-day from the office." Sally's inevitable questions - and our answers - are not recorded. Perhaps we were all rendered speechless.

Or maybe she was so busy listening to her story-tapes she never even noticed? It can't be entirely coincidental that so many of our journeys were made tolerable by the genius suggestion of Sarah's that we buy a Sony Walkman and a stack of story tapes. And Charlie's at the stage when 'Mr Dum Dum' makes most things like a car journey tolerable. In fact, with his dummy in his mouth he often sleeps while we're traveling. I can remember only once - when he was just a few months old - when the fag-end of a journey was accompanied by ceaseless screaming. We were only a matter of twenty or thirty miles from home and his next feed. But it still took well over an hour to complete our journey as we wound around Peterborough and twisted and turned on the Crowland road. We weren't even stuck behind a tractor. And sometimes, that's the worst thing of all. Knowing that anywhere else, on any other roads, we'd be home in less than half-an-hour. Just not in Lincolnshire.

Of course, there's always a solution....

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