Very nice, too

Wednesday November 15, 2006

“I thought you were going to call a taxi.”

“I was, but I’ve decided to walk.”

“Are you sure? It’s a long way.”

“No further than I’ve been walking recently,” I said, stoutly. “And I can take a rest half-way.”

“Well, if you’re sure. Do you want me to come with you?”

“Better not. I walk too slowly for you.”

“OK. I’ll have coffee brewing for you when you get back and then we can get off smartly.”

So I donned my waterproof, just in case, picked up my stick, and set off in the direction of the van hire company’s yard a little way beyond the dentists’ and doctors’ surgeries. I had forty-five minutes before I’d said I would pick the rental van and was perfectly confident I could make it.

A little more than half-way I called in at the dentists’ to arrange my next appointment and to the pharmacy to pick up my new ‘statin prescription. I sat on the bench outside for a little while, more out of duty than necessity, and then resumed my trek, getting to the yard office in good time.

I’d done remarkably well, with no leg or hip troubles worth noting, and my heart ticking over nicely. I did even better when I turned the VW Transporter engine over and drove off out of the yard. It’s truly easy to drive, has more than enough power, and manouvres happily in even the tightest of situations.

Back home I tucked into my coffee, thought about a bit of breakfast, decided against, and off we set to the holiday camp on an errand to pick up our patio plants from outside the caravan and bring them home to Bridgwater. We parked outside the club house so Graham could pick up a sack-barrow to aid him in the task of moving container plants to and fro, and I stood by the van to take the air and stretch my legs. That was when, struck by the incongruity of my situation, today’s poem happened.

Moments later, having manouvred the van through a very narrow space between a tree and a huge caravan parked in the centre of the track, I received a compliment I’d not expected.

“That was superbly done,” Graham said.

“Well, thank you. I like driving this van.”

“I can see that. We’ll be fine tomorrow, then?”

“Oh, yes. I could drive this to China and back if we had the need.”

While Graham was packing the van I made coffee and snapped the TV on to watch the Queen opening Parliament. I always enjoy the majesty and the history of this event, even if the legislative programme announced was flat and stale, and I quite expected it to displace the day’s poem. Didn’t happen, though. The jewelled crown glittered and the ermined robes flowed but I was still firmly and happily in my own place.

We had a couple of calls to make on the way home and when I pulled up outside the house my tummy was rumbling.

“Tell you what,” Graham said. “You go and get lunch ready and I’ll shift this lot into the back garden.”

I fixed lunch and joined him for the final dregs of the shifting operation. Carried a couple of lengths of timber destined to become a low-level deck outside the french doors, and then went back to sweep the van out and lock it up ready for tomorrow.

“I think we done good there,” I said, munching my sandwich.

“Sure did. What am I eating?”

“Wensleydale with plum and mango chutney.”

“Very nice, too.”

 

A failure of emulation
 
Leaning against the white rental van
I try to copy the way of the trucking man.
 
I fart, quite loudly, and hoist my pants,
tune the radio to squawking Bridge FM
 
and
 
overhead the clouds swirl in the
direction of Wales, the gulls cry
lonely torment in the sky
and a soft breeze beckons.
 
 
John Bailey
Somerset, November 2006

 

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