I realised I haven’t written in my blog for the whole month of October, and it’s now 31st October, so if I don’t write one today, I will have missed a whole calendar month and that’s like stepping on the cracks or walking under ladders or something.
So here I am writing my October blog. I am feeling quite gloomy today. Not sure if it’s the weather or because it’s Halloween, or because it’s half term, perhaps it’s all three.
I’m not very good at dealing with half term. Part of the problem is I work from home. That is when I’m not travelling, and I have to say that working from home is pretty good most of the time. A bad daily commute usually amounts to me tripping over the dog who has taken to laying outside the bedroom door. It’s a dark corridor at the best of times and he’s a black dog, so you can probably imagine the potential hazards I have to face, but I’m really not complaining. My previous commute was to Slough.
It took 2hrs to Slough, 2hrs each way, a 2 hr white knuckle drive through the back roads of SE England, trying to avoid traffic jams, but regularly bumping into other commuters using the same SatNav program as I. I feel sorry for villages like Weston Turville that must have been quiet Hamlets back in the day, long before SatNavs told all and sundry that the quickest way from Leighton Buzzard to High Wycombe was to miss out Aylesbury and cut along Broughton Lane, past the inviting Dog House Pub http://www.doghouseinn.co.uk/, and over the narrow humped back bridge, so narrow in fact that there is only room for one car, and on account of the hump you can’t see what’s coming towards you.
I always used to shout “Wooooooahhhhhhhh!!” as I went over that bridge, using my finest rollercoaster voice. It was an adrenalin fuelled shout if I’m honest. Dangerous isn’t the word. Actually dangerous is a very good word for that bridge on Broughton Lane nr the Dog House Pub nr Aylesbury, because you simply can’t see what’s coming towards you on account of the hump. That wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t single lane.
The best tactic, therefore, one adopted by many seasoned SatNav commuters, is to try and get behind another car along Broughton Lane. You have to be right up their arse by the time you reach the pub, so that they led the charge over the top and acted like a shield, taking all the impacts from any oncoming collision.
It was akin to Wacky races some days, with a snake of 7 or 8 cars all adopting the same tactic, less than 10mm between each other, all racing towards the bridge, and of course if the first one went for it you simply had to follow. If you delayed, you risked an oncoming waiting car starting to sneak through and ruining all the good work the car in front had created. You also incurred the wrath of the cars on your tail for failing to take the charge. It wasn’t uncommon for commuters who had suffered such a humiliation, to sell their car and get a new one, different colour, different model, on account of the shame and loss of honour from breaking the code. Woe betide the driver who broke the chain and dared return to Broughton Lane bridge.
The Ying and Yang in all of this though, is that it was rubbish if you were coming the other way and the Wacky Races entourage was coming towards you and had beaten you to the bridge, as you then had to wait ages whilst Penelope Pitstop, Peter Perfect, Professor Pat Pending and the entire Ant Hill Mob snaked their way over the brow, smugly smiling at you as they passed, leaving you helplessly drumming your fingers on the steering wheel, wondering, always wondering, if that was the end of the snake, or whether there was one more to come. That’s it .. here we go … Wooooooahhhhhhhh!!!!!
I don’t like Halloween either and my family knows it. They’re quite good, they say I don’t have to go trick-or-treating, but that means I get to stay at home and answer the bloody door all night, having to act all surprised when local kids ring the bell, demanding sweets or they’ll kick the shit out of our house and slash the car tyres.
Of course the house is all decked out as my family like the spectacle of Halloween, so word gets out that No.4 is worth a visit. They think we’re “up for it”, what with all the decorations and all that, and they also expect to be greeted by a jolly ghoul. Instead they get me, a rather grumpy, middle aged bloke on a Skype call to the USA, answering the door.
“Trick or treeeeaaaat!”
“Oh. You look nice. Very scary. Is that an MK council recycling bin bag you’re wearing? Here, have a sweet. Just take one FFS!!!!”
Kids grabbing handfuls of bloody sweets that undoubtedly cost me a small fortune. But the worst kind are the teenagers – the 15/16/17yrs old in torn clothes.
“Hi, we’re trick or treating”
“Oh. Right. Here, have a sweetie”
And there I am, all alone, handing sweets to a bunch of 16yr old girls on my own bloody doorstep, girls wearing make-up and a skimpy skirt with torn black stockings and I’m trying to entice them with a Haribo chew from my pumpkin container of condiments.
Now then now then boys and girls, goodness gracious. As it happens …