Thursday, 23 August 2007

The Scenic Route

Anyone who's checked out the TV schedules lately will have noticed a series from the actor Robbie Coltrane called B-road Britain. Coltrane takes to the back roads of Britain in his classic 1950s Jaguar (it's an XK150 don't cha know) to observe the many oddities of British village life. Today I had my own little B road adventure and I'm sad to say that they obviously have far more of a liking for Hagrid than myself.

It could simply be a matter of the car. How can my 2000 Skoda Fabia really stand a chance when going head to head with Coltrane's motor? I'd like to think that it's not the driver. Why any B-road would prefer to have a, shall we say, larger gentleman bearing down on it's rather fragile foundations than a fairly average 23 year old woman I do not know. But nevertheless today the B-roads of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire contrived to make my life as difficult as possible.

I passed my driving test last year after a huge amount of effort spread over a number of years and often hindered by relapses of my M.E. I merrily embraced this new found independence and enjoyed my little trips round about town. Unfortunately I had a major relapse in March I was unable to drive at all for a number of months and since then any driving has been limited to a very small journey every fortnight or so. However this morning I woke up, the sun was shining and I felt fairly well so I decided to make a longer journey; taking the A14 for a number of junctions (I hadn't been on it since the relapse) and then using the back roads to get home. If I couldn't concentrate quite as well by that time then it would be safer for me to be on smaller roads than a big dual carriageway.

11:00am I'm on the A14
11:20am I'm off the A14 (so far so good)
11:25am Oh bother. I've missed my turn off.
11:30am I'm lost
11:32am I'm behind two caravans.
11:33am Loose chippings. I'm going at 15mph and they're still hitting my car.
11:35am I check my map. It doesn't help.
11:40am I've gone round in a circle and I'm now back at the precise spot I was 20 minutes ago.
11:41am Ha - I made the turn off this time!
11:42am Hmmmm...this is a very narrow road. I hope I don't meet anything coming in the other direction.
11:43am I've met something coming in the other direction.

Many narrow roads and farm smells later and I eventually find myself somewhere recognisable. Thankfully I got home from there without much further incident and promptly threw myself upon the sofa and stayed there for half an hour.

I'd taken what my parents would have called The Scenic Route. As a child in the back of a car I liked The Scenic Route. As a driver with rapidly depleting energy supplies I do not. I need to get from A to B as quickly as possible. It occurs to me that I'm really taking The Scenic Route in life - but with my driver's attitude not the passenger's. I have to get from A to B. (Although I have no idea where B is. Unless we're talking my eternal destination. As a Christian I'm pretty clear on that.) I want to get to B as easily as possible, at the wheel of the best car, encountering the fewest obstacles and driving through the finest weather. Instead I have seem to have been landed with the life equivalent of an old banger. I'm finding road-blocks and obstacles at every turn and I'm driving through the biggest thunderstorm since records began. (I hate that phrase: since records began. Weathermen take note. One of the most overused expressions of the last 10 years.) I long for an A-14 life. Simple and straightforward. Sure there may be a few traffic jams along the way but I can be patient.

Just get me off these flippin B-roads!

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