Celtic Illumination, part 397, Lights, camera, action!
Well thank you all very much for your kind words and felicitations after yesterday’s triumphant return. Unfortunately, as I have not insisted on some form of assessment, or selective testing, to determine who should be, or should not be, members of The Illuminati, there are those who tend to submit negative comments. People like Colonialist, who love to speculate about what might happen next, incorrectly I might add, through to the lady from Scottish Scotland who complained that yesterday’s blog ended far too abruptly. I’ll try my hardest to accommodate you both today. This is the thanks you get for dragging yourself from your death bed to this computer keyboard and not only producing the daily fifteen hundred words, which should get me a, ‘Value for money’ award, if one existed, when in fact, despite my severe and debilitating illness saw me produce nineteen hundred and forty words yesterday. I suppose that I will have to accept that my true greatness will not be universally recognised until about four hundred years after my death.
So let me take you back four hundred years to Saundersfoot in South Welsh Wales, on the coast, by the sea. I was sat sitting on my big leather settee, could someone check with Debrett’s Social guide and see if I was sitting on a settee or a couch, I couldn’t be arsed doing it myself at the moment. I was sat sitting there and noticed that my allotted half an hour break was up. I would have to move, which I discovered that I couldn’t. This was not some aggressive branching out of the severe case of Man Flu I was suffering from, but a combination of me not being able to stand and the settee, or couch, being far too low to the ground. This was not Man Flu, this was physics. Irene, her sisters and the Mother in Law had all given up telling me how ill I looked and were now scurrying about looking in cupboards and rooms deciding who would sleep where and why. In fact I don’t think there were enough padded cupboards to accommodate the lot of them.
Someone even suggested that I stay the night, have a rest and travel back the following day. Apart from the fact that I had calculated my daily medicine intake from my set off time, still prominent on the back of my left hand in black ink, I had read enough Terry Pratchett books to know that magic had a life of its own, could leak from room to room, and could get up to all sorts of frivolous tricks on its own. Now that the coven had formed properly I wasn’t about to hang around and participate in a replay of the opening scene from the Scottish Play. The Mother in law was now complaining that I had got us lost on the way down, as I had only switched on the Sat Nav about ten miles from Saundersfoot. In her opinion if I had switched it on sooner we would have arrived much earlier at the house. During a moment when the room I was in was empty, apart from myself of course, I managed to get myself to stand up.
I could see in the reflection in the huge glass windows that I looked a fine fellow indeed, nothing ill or sick about me at all, apart from the Man Flu. I made it to the downstairs toilet and having used the facilities gave myself an extra minute or two, resting, to get my breath back. My next break for it was my final required burst of energy that saw me get through the front door and back in to the driving seat of my car. I pulled out a map and began to plan my return route. Of the three routes suggested to me by the RAC, the Royal Automobile Club, I had wanted to return along the Welsh coast. Driving North to about mid Welsh Wales then cut across Snowdonia, through all the tiny hamlets and villages I knew and loved so well. The route I had taken down, through the centre of Welsh Wales had been pleasant enough; in fact I had mentioned to Irene that it reminded me of my childhood in Ireland, the small roads, cottages, fields, crops, animals and the smells of the countryside.
But the slipper problem, not just coming off and jamming themselves under the pedals, but not having anyone to get them back on for me, was going to be a problem. It left me with only one option which was the third route, the motorway. Not only was the motorway direct and theoretically faster, it was eighty miles longer. It was also boring which normally in itself is no great problem but it might be when you tend to fall asleep all the time. I don’t think I was narcoleptic, unless off course narcolepsy is a part of Man Flu, but as the motorway route had no roundabouts my slippers might stay on for the whole journey, so the probability of crashing was greatly reduced. I was wondering if I could keep myself awake by eating and throwing up for most of the journey and wondering what sort of music would best accompany that type of behaviour when Irene came out to check on me. She made sure that I had plenty of sandwiches and drinks and wished me well.
I fired up the old horses and meandered my way along the lanes in Saundersfoot. I hoped they would have an enjoyable time in Saundersfoot as I knew I couldn’t spend more than five minutes there without getting arrested for murder. There’s a motorway that runs across the South coast of Welsh Wales, the M4 motorway. Unfortunately it runs all the way from London, meaning that every Friday evening there is an exodus from London of brainless, chinless wondering, freaks driving BMW’s and Range Rovers at breakneck speed from their London pad to their Welsh holiday home. For simplicity’s sake you can say that anything living below the motorway, between the road and the sea, is English and pretending to be posh. In fact so posh they can’t eat chips with their fingers. While anything within a fifty mile range north of the motorway, between the road and the slag heaps, is a member of the Viet Taff freedom fighters. Hardy men and women who keep Landrovers and whippets in their front rooms, believe that singing in choirs makes the world spin and accept that Sundays are for fishing and drinking beer, after church.
There’s nothing worse than finding what you think is a remote country pub and settling yourself in for a bite to eat and a small libation, when you are forced to listen to the next table’s conversation. Their most popular subject is of course property prices, followed by skiing and then how all the problems in the country are caused by the bloody foreigners, especially the Polish. This is the thanks the Polish get for joining the British military in their thousands during the Second World War. However despite the two thousand four hundred and eight Polish airmen killed during the Second World War they were still not allowed to join in the Victory Parade in London in June 1946. They should have taken the hint then. I wasn’t planning on visiting any Welsh hostelries so headed off for the motorway route.
Being a maths geek I was testing myself against my Sat Nav. Although I would now have an extra eighty miles to drive, my top average speed would be somewhere in the region of seventy miles per hour, plus the ten per cent variance I understood was given to police speed cameras. Added to this would of course be if any police cars were in sight which could produce a cumulative figure in the region of one hundred miles per hour. So the extra eighty miles would reduce itself to a matter of minutes once the old motorcar was given its head. I smiled as I crossed the Severn Bridge as the last time I had crossed it I was hanging out of a car, travelling at seventy miles per hour, having a sword fight with a Captain from the Royal Marines who was I am ashamed to say a little the worse for drink. He of course was in another car and it was imperative that I won the engagement as our car would regain the bottle of Pusser’s rum we were fighting for.
As I left the bridge I came across my first set of road works which were saturated with speed cameras that calculated your average speed. At fifty miles per hour I began to wonder if I had made the correct decision. My slippers had stayed on, I hadn’t fallen asleep, or at least I don’t think I had. I hadn’t thrown up, as I hadn’t eaten anything, so began to re-calculate my exact time of arrival back home. This was proving to be difficult as it appeared that most of the journey back home, plus the extra eighty miles, was all restricted to either a forty, or fifty, mile an hour speed limit and all watched with the computer driven speed cameras meaning that the speed limits had to be observed.
The journey now became ultra-boring, not only that but it was getting dark and my yawning was becoming more frequent. I began to play the only game that was really left to me and which many people engaged in while driving on motorways. How much fuel have I left? Every now and again a sign will appear saying that the next motorway service area is six miles away and the one after that is thirty miles away. You check and see that you can safely make the thirty mile service area. But as the journey continues and your fuel reserve diminishes, things begin to get interesting. You might have thirty miles left in your tank and the next service area is five miles away with the next being thirty two, can you make the thirty two? I of course had the Royal Automobile Club to back me up but decided not to chance it as the last time I had called them out they turned up with television cameras.
Imagine, you’re sat sitting at home, futering away in your workshop. The mention that you are in your workshop should indicate to people that you are in workshop clothes. The sort of clothes that mop up paint splatters and wax, where small rips and tears remind you of the blade that nearly took its pound of flesh. The sort of clothes that ensure your good clothes don’t get dirty. Then the telephone rings. Wife needs picking up so, without thinking, for as you know keeping her waiting is not allowed, do you secure the house or change your clothes? It’s dark, it’s raining, she’s only five minutes away. It’s at times like these that you get a puncture and boy did I. With it being dark and raining you can assume that it was cold so I dispatched wife off home with a friend and called out the Royal Automobile Club.
Twenty minutes was about all it took them. I had tried to remove the punctured wheel myself but the darn thing was really stuck on. I couldn’t budge it. It was a relief to see the bright day-glow orange van pull in and drive up to me, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the spotlights coming out through the passenger doors, attached to the television cameras which were being held and operated by camera people. I am stood standing in the rain, looking like a tramp that has just been through a hay bailer, as the RAC operative explains that they are filming real clients to put on their television commercials, he assumed I would have no objection. What could I say, or do? All I could think of was one of dear old Oscar Wilde’s quotes, “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”