Friday, 13 February 2009

'Try-the-Patience-of-a-Saint' Thursday

Henceforth, Thursday, 12th February 2009 shall be known as 'Try-the-Patience-of-a-Saint' Thursday. I was toying with the idea of calling it Black Thursday, but I think that may have already been done and I don't want people to think I can't be original, especially as my daughter said to me yesterday 'It's all right for you, you sit at home all day doing nothing.' (And this as we were standing in a bar whilst I paid the not insubstantial deposit for the room hire for her 21st birthday party on Monday night. She was testing a very fine wire, I thought.)

We set off for Norwich at nine thirty a.m. Good plan, you see. Avoid the rush hour traffic, we'll be there by mid-day, we thought. Take Heather out to lunch, buy her a new coat, set off for home about five-ish and be home in time for the last episode of 'Hustle' and a mug of bed-time hot chocolate. Sorted.

Through the Dartford Tunnel and then a smell of burning rubber hit us just before we ground to a halt about 100 yards from a road accident. There were fire engines, ambulances, police and motorway traffic officials roaring up and down the hard shoulder. Then the air ambulance arrived and went three times.

We were stuck for two hours. We played 'where shall we live?' using the road map. We played 'What's the funniest place name in Britain?' again using the road map. Andy was just beginning to think of playing 'Can I wee into a bottle without the lorry behind us noticing,' when we started moving. So we had to stop for a wee break at the next services.

We arrive in Norwich at half past two. It is bitingly cold. 'This is what happens when you travel up north,' I say, as we shiver our way to the coffee shop in which we'd arranged to meet Heather. We sit and wait. We have tea and hot chocolate and a cake between us. Heather arrives eventually and says 'Oh, could you lend me the deposit for the room I've hired for my party. It'll be okay, you'll get it back.' 'Okay' I say. So off we go to this pub and the barmaid tries to call the manager on her mobile to tell him we are here. And we wait. And wait. The barmaid sighs alot and stares at the ceiling and then at the mobile phone and then at the ceiling again. I rest my head on the counter.

The manager finally arrives and tries to blame his tardiness on BT. He shows us the room. He tries to engage me in conversation about cheap alcohol. I haven't the energy to tell him he's talking to completely the wrong, tee-total person. I pay the deposit and whilst Andy goes to mooch around bookshops, I take Heather to buy her a coat. It is getting colder.

We meet Andy back at a restaurant Heather has selected for lunch but is now dinner. She tries to open the door. It won't budge. We all try the door. It still won't budge. It is a quarter past five. The restaurant doesn't open until 6. By now I could eat a paving slab. So we go to good old Bella Italia with the lovely fey waiter who calls us 'guys' and tries to foist a mushroom special on us. But we like him. We have a nice meal. I call Chris to ask him to nip to ours and shut the chickens away as we are running behind time. We leave the restaurant. It is snowing. Heavily. 'How did that happen?' I demand to know. We march swiftly back to the car park, and when we arrive, frozen and covered in snow Heather says 'Oh, if I'd have known that this is where you'd parked we could have taken a quicker route back.' We take Heather home and set off in a blizzard for the drive back to Kent.

It snows, and snows and snows. Lorries whizz past us, throwing snow and slush onto the windscreen and blinding us on roads we can hardly see anyway. I do a lot of ineffectual shouting at thoughtless lorry drivers (Tesco and Sainsbury, hang your heads in shame). I would take down their number plates and report them if I could a) remove my hands from in front of my face and b)see the plates which are all obscured by snow. 'Go to sleep,' says Andy. 'Are you crazy?' I say. 'If I'm going to die, I want to be awake when it happens.' 'You aren't going to die,' says Andy, patting my leg reassuringly. 'Both hands on the wheel,' I squeal, as another lorry shoots past us at 100 miles an hour, oblivious to the blizzard.

And so it continued all the way home. We crawled along, tagging the car in front. The edges of the road disappeared under snow drifts. I wish we had stocked up on biscuits and a shovel before we'd left Norwich. I am convinced we are going to grind to a halt and become stranded somewhere outside Cambridge and that in the morning the police will discover our poor, frozen bodies clinging together for warmth, a strand of uphostery fabric trailing from my lips as I tried to eke sustenance from the car seat.

We get home just after 11. Cold. Traumatised. And Andy has a numb bottom. He pops out to check the hens who are fast asleep but have left us four eggs.

What a day.

No comments: