Friday 27th October 2006
This is my last day at work for two whole weeks. The best part of the a holiday, the last logoff of your work laptop before it all starts. I'm SO happy. How I can need a holiday after being off six months of the year I'm not sure, but that's work life for you.
I phoned about my car last week.
Young Stuart answers the phone, I can hear old Stuart in the background whispering "Tell her we don't have petrol. I suspect that they have ignored my advice not to try to get the stuck key out of the ignition and have snapped it in half. But I don't say that. I gently say "Well, you've had the car a good few weeks now. I'll phone you on Tuesday.
"Yes, he says, the way an honest person says it. A person who doesn't take umbrage at the person they think they've let down. But says yes and gets on with it.
This week, I phone on Wednesday. Young Stuart answers the phone.
"It was ready on Monday, he says, not a hint of sarcasm in his voice, but pride in his commitment, not to me, to himself. It's who he is. He's right to be proud and tell me.
"Oh thank you! And how much is it? I ask
"Well, I don't know my dad does that and he's away on holiday this week.
"Oh but I need my car, I'm on holiday next week.
"Oh you can have your car, we'll just post you the invoice, is that okay?
How to tell an honest person. They trust.
"Thank you for fixing it when I asked. I say. "What was actually wrong with it?
"A hole in the pipe that leads to the petrol tank and it needed break pads.
I was for taking it to the scrapheap. Coz I didn't ask. For help. Not even for a second opinion. Not even for a first opinion. I self diagnosed.
Who knew that a petrol tank has a pipe?
I need to find a husband soon.
(Am ignoring the Universe chuckling at the fact that I just did, that is so NOT what I meant).
We arrange that the key and a half are to be left on the visor. They don't need to lock cars, in the country. He explains that the ignition key was programmed so hanging the broken half key on the same keyring as the unprogrammed spare key passes some magical spark between them and the ignition starts no problem. Men are fabulous, and know some fabulous things.
I don't ask how the key got broken.
I text the bumpkin bidie-in and he's working in town and not only is happy to give me a lift but is very proud that he has already prepared the Shepherd's pie and so I'm invited to dinner too. Is there anything better than having lovely friends? He picks me up in the big white van, we are high up over the road and I hope we'll cut someone up on the way out there, it should be compulsory in a big white transit. We have a good talk all the way out to the garage. I ask tell him I need to go for petrol right away, they put about 10 litres in it.
"That's okay, that's about 2 gallons. He says, and laughs when I say "Is it?
Am annoyed at that. I heard on a play on the radio that there are two kinds of people in the world. Machiavellian Princes and Little Princes. The Machiavellian ones are interested in facts, on meeting they will ask you what you do, how old you are, where you live, do you know how many litres make a gallon.
The Little Prince ones will ask you do you like chasing butterflies and what's your favourite flavour ice cream. I suspect I am the latter.
Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia.
I am so happy to see my car again. I have arranged to put a card through the door with my address on it and get out the van and start walking up the hill in the pitch dark.
Bidie-in bumpkin calls me back, "Hazel, you're going the wrong way."
"Oh I said I'd put it through the letter box in the house, there isn't one in the garage door."
"Yes, but that's not his house."
I didn't ask.
We find an open van and put the card on the driver seat, one that has no MOT cert on it as it's not going away anywhere if that's the case. Country living. It seems so free. The price, of course, is there is no privacy. Everybody knows everything and they all tell each other everything so don't tell them anything until you're invited to dinner and have them all there at once, or you'll have no news and they'll be telling you what happened to you.
I hate that.
I laugh about not asking again and get in my car, find the key and a half and turn it on. As if by magic. Bidie-in bumpkin has been standing with his thumbs up but it's so dark I can't even see him until I put the lights on. After squirting the windscreen as I've already forgotten what side the light switch is on. It's weird driving again. Like hearing the Channel 4 news theme tune when you come back from being abroad. Something familiar but alien.
I drive past the house and go down to Alford to 'fill her up' at the petrol station, no twenty-four hour service out there. As I stand with the petrol pump in my hand not caring how many litres make a gallon, feeling in charge again, I am squirming as I see it has a new spider living on it, must have been hanging on for grim death, now crawling towards me on a mission. Plus a slug and various twigs hanging on the cobwebs on the wing mirrors.
I hope there are no mice, there is a funny squeak when I press the accelerator pedal.
Resolve to only open the boot in the daylight.
I get back to the bumpkins and deliver my contribution to dinner, muffins from the new bread shop around the corner. The kitchen is warm and full of yellow light. I feel like dancing. We have rehashed spag bol transformed into Shepherd's pie, baked with parmesan and sesame seeds on top of the potatoes making a crunchy topping. Yum.
I love to drive home in the country pitch dark. The road empty, apart from wee mice scampering across it. I sing along to 'Here Comes the Flood', as it starts pouring with rain.
Coincidentally, my permit to park in the street ran out yesterday, just in time to get the car parked overnight and drive downtown at lunchtime to renew it. What a feeling of satisfaction sticking the permit onto my windscreen. I love my wee car. I do.
But I have learned a lot these last few weeks being car-less. I hardly missed it really, just this last week bussing it out to the airport last Friday night. Who knew that the too tender breaks and too crap driving of the fifteen-year-old in charge of the bus could drive a person so close to delivering a slap to the back of his head. It wends through an industrial estate and as the bus filled with damp but hot bodies, the windows fog up and everything feels itchy and annoying. I'd rather be walking. Or on a coach. Double deckers are no use.
I missed my favourite haunts at the weekend though and the week has become too routine walking for two tomatoes and a grapefruit. I miss Newton Dee and have missed seeing the walled garden. I love to go and breathe it in once a week.
As I'm day dreaming of how I'll spend my first holiday Saturday with my car, it comes on the news a boat went down last night. Wicked weather, all lost. Four souls. Out in that weather in the waves. Their poor families. No comfort there in those last moments. Icy cold wall smothering, as they see it all, their lives, loved ones, faces past and present called to say goodbye. I read somewhere that drowning is euphoric. How do they know? I hope it was. Because the moments before must have been beyond desolate. Drowning would be a relief faced with the terror or the raging sea, come to claim you.
A woman's baby died of salt.
Death by brine all around today. Essential for life, bringing death.
Fyvie castle curator calls. They've had to cancel tomorrow night's adult spooky our of the castle. They've lost a dozen trees from storm damage. Strewn over the path. One of them left a twelve foot crater. Health and Safety, we'll have to have the bejesus scared out of us another Hallowe'en.
Will just listen to the news. That usually does it.
Last night, as I googled for a Tolstoy quote, there was a bizarre link on the page. Illicit affaires or something like it. Obviously I went. 107 pages, half a dozen each a page, of men looking for a bit on the side as they are in loveless, sexless marriages or partnerships which they either don't want to leave or can't. For the children. For the cost of it. For the lack of balls? For the being taken care of my 'mummy' partner at home. They admit there is no romance or sexual sparkle in their lives.
Who's fault is that?
Set a woman up as your mother, guaranteed pretty soon you won't want to fuck her. So they are advertising for a bit on the side, or married women in the same boat.
Why would anyone go there if they can't make it happen with a woman willing to take care of them who the hell can they make it happen with? They say they are honest.
I think not.
Chiefly, not with themselves.
They don't want to hurt their wives and partners.
Almost all of them say they will never leave.
Hell mend them.
I choose something else for myself.
It hits me. They are easy targets. These spineless cake eaters.
How unavailable is unavailable? I appear to have been operating on a sliding scale that I'd tolerate. Kids who'd be hurt. Actually married not 'just' living together. The land-locking of children and wedding ring inversely proportionate to the likelihood of them leaving 'the other' for me.
Suddenly the weekend husband all makes sense.
And I realise, I am already off to pastures new.
Tra la la.