Attempting to make it as a writer

Back to School

The trunk needed packing, it lay open and waiting on the bed.  As normal a variety of new clothes had been bought and waited to go in the case. I knew for certain that I had not grown any taller this year but just possibly I had shed a few unnecessary pounds, hence the reason for so many new items.

The full case was loaded into the car and off we set.  I was going back to school and I was full of a variety of school girl emotion; trepidation, excitement, uncertainty and euphoria, which I now realise, will always accompany my return.  The journey was unbelievably long and hazardous with traffic and holdups at every turn.  Were they there just to frustrate me or to pour more anxiety on the tension in the car.  We shuffled laboriously up the M5 and tried in vain to move forward to the M6.

I knew one friend was not coming back this time so I would be on my own. It was she, who’s glow I usually basked in.  It was she who led us in, but far more importantly pulled us out of mischief.  It was her I was missing already and I had not even arrived.

With relief we approached the school.  The pressure in the car dissipating every inch we moved closer up the drive.  I collected my key and we made our way back to my old familiar room.  It was still the same, just as I had left it, ready and waiting for me to unpack and stamp my own character back onto it.  Having unloaded, I waved off the family.  A moment of sudden missing them as the car vanished round the corner and I was left alone.

Turning my back on the disappearing car, my stomach tightened as I wandered into the lounge. Suddenly I was surrounded by old friends and acquaintances, I had not seen for a year.   Hugs, laughs and memories of previous years as new people arrived and the magic began to embrace us.

I was back, back in my own world of fiction, non-fiction, romance, CSI and all things literary.  Surrounded again by friends and new friends I was at Swanwick Writers Summer School and ready to absorb the atmosphere, magic and material that will guide me through the coming year’s projects.Swanwick 2015

This year I had promised myself I was going to stretch myself and learn outside my comfort zone.  Thrown in at the deep end that first evening, I found myself stood up in front of a room of proper writers.  It was as my name was called I realised how hot the room actually was, the door was too far away to run and all these people were so much better than me.

A deep breath and I launched into a speedy resume of what I had already written, forgetting or withholding the additional information that it still needed to be published.  I stumbled my way through my current and future projects  focusing  on this year’s plans;  to learn research, historical plotting and characterisation for my next NANOWRIMO novel.   I then fell back into the welcoming arms of my chair and anonymity.

I’d got away with it. The welcome in the bar was still going on and I joined in with my own celebration at overcoming a personal fear.  Is it the magic that carried me through?  Most definitely!

The first night done already, but I was entrenched back into the enchanted ecosphere of the place I love most; Swanwick.


Student Digs

I didn’t go to university when I left school.  Once I was out and had a say  I fought all forms of educational establishment and set out on my own pioneering journey of discovery……          That does not mean I have closed that chapter.   My university place is waiting , waiting for me to be ready to take it up.    The difference now 35 years later on; is I actually know what I want to study, how it will shape my life and why I wish to put myself back into the arena of formal learning having fought so hard to get out of it.  Unfortunately my grant for life is no longer valid and I will end up funding it myself.  One of many procrastinating reasons I now delay the start.

I have recently made another discovery, one does not have to move away from home and onto campus to live in student digs.  My home, once the hub of rugby playing teenagers, bmx bikes and sporting  injuries now seems full of hungover bodies who appear briefly as they pass dreamlike through the house and then wave goodbye.

I left home young and spent several years renting before making my move to London.  It was not unusual in those days to find my flat or house filled with friends making the most of the chance to escape their parents and misbehave.  Many a quiet night was interrupted with a distressed friend having left home or not wanting to return home until the signs of drink, drugs or sex had worn off.

Life may have moved on but more and more I find myself waking these days only to come face to face with teenagers have never met before.  Boys, girls, youngsters! I came down to pair of high heeled shoes this morning.  Certain that I would never get away with wearing a pair like that much as I might want to I was also certain none of my boys had taken up wearing high heels.   Although Sexy Sporty Dad might have had a moment of “that’s my boy” we waited till the story was revealed.Student Digs

In time No 1 Son appeared sheepishly more the worse for drink than the embarrassment of a young lady in toe.   Discussion revealed that a misunderstanding in the early hours of the morning had left the girl stranded with nowhere to stay.   When No 1 Son offered her “no strings attached shelter and warmth” she had agreed,thoughtfully removing her heels as she went upstairs past our room.  Although Sexy Sporty Dad and No 1 Son may have had a flicker of disappointment I was delighted the girl was safe and comfortable enough to come and take up the offer of a bed.  I reassured her she was welcome any time.

This followed closely on the heels of arriving down stairs last weekend to the dining table covered with bottles mainly empty of wine, beer and vodka.  Glasses galore scattered round the room some knocked over, some partly full lying beside the packets of cold congealed chips that had been bought and never finished.   We had been disturbed in the night and the  noise downstairs reassured us our children were safely home. Unprepared to clear the mess I put the kettle on.

A noise made me take the very brave step of quietly knocking and entering the lair of No 1 Son only to be met with him lying face down on the floor in front of the door.  Well at least he was home.   I whispered that it might have been better to sleep in the bed.  The body slowly rose and looked up at me.  Someone else’s face said “the bed is full” as he collapsed back into the carpet.

Peering gingerly, I looked round the corner of the room to where the bed hides and discovered the bed was indeed full.  No 1 Son plus one other top and tailed on top of the bed where they had managed to fall.  The single bed protesting at each movement.   I made a hasty retreat straight into the path of an unknown girl headed for the bathroom.

A glance into Middle Son’s closing door from where she had appeared, revealed the floor no longer covered in the inevitable discarded clothing, but a mass of bodies.  Girls snuggled together in one corner, boys in the other,  Middle Son safely tucked up in his bed.

Retreating to my own room with a large cup of tea and the Sunday papers,  I emerged some while later to a near empty house.  Not a bottle in sight unless you lifted the bin on the glass recycling box.

Bumping into a girl sneaking in or out of the bedrooms has ceased to be a contentious issue as most of the time it heralds several other girls and boys also draped over the floor.  I don’t want my children to move on and it is wonderful that the children’s friends feel as at home here as anywhere, but sometimes it would be nice to have teenage warning.

Maybe things haven’t moved on as far as I thought and my home is still a haven for waifs, strays and needy people.








Letting Go!

No 1 Son wants to buy a car!

To be honest No 1 Son wants more than a car, he wants his independence and adulthood.  We have spent the last 20 years cosseting him in cotton wool, and shielding him from the harsh realities of the real world.  Now he wants to take his own route to maturity.  So how long do we need to keep battling to protect our precious offspring, when they are so keen to join the imagined greener grass?

When he was little he would sit at the window watching the bigger boys and girls having fun outside in the road, we lived at the end of a cul-de-sac.    He yearned to go out and play with them, he begged me to open the door and let him escape, he would wander round through our garden to the back gate in the hope someone had forgotten to slip the out of reach bolt across.  I stuck to my resolution that whilst I did not have the time to sit and watch him he remained firmly where he was …..Safe.

He did not miss out, as when I did have the time, and I found plenty of time to avoid the housework, shopping and other hum drum chores so  we spent hours at the nearby park, or out walking the country lanes where he made friends with local dogs who would come and bark, and run away as we came past, or the young horse kept in a field who would prance over and then run off kicking and jumping and showing off as youngsters do.   I also have a series of now redundant video (in light of DVDs) of each Sunday morning as the children grew up, making friends and playing with the older children outside the house, where I could be there keeping an eye on them.

I lost the battle when Middle Son came along with his disregard for barriers, constraints and safety;  he would climb the back gate.   He learnt very quickly to stand on a pile of wobbling uneven books on the window ledge and open the window before slipping out.    He taught his older brother how to quietly take a chair to the front door and open the catch, move the chair just enough to escape through the gap.   He then taught him to make their way to the park by themselves.    The sound of silence in the house even now alerts me to mischief.

So I can hear you say, let the boy have the car.

It is not him having a car I object to, but he is only 19 and he wants to buy a Masda MX5.   I want him to buy a Sherman tank so that if anyone hits him I have more faith in him being safe.   What protection does a soft top MX5 have from other drivers?  I rely on my years of experience to get me out of scrapes; he is still building his experience base and confidence in his ability to drive safely, he has not realised yet it is the other driver I am concerned about.

I know, now he is older he watches me drive a Mercedes SLK convertible, in which I love being out and about on the few summer days we have; top down, sun beating and radio blaring.  When I met Sexy Sporty Dad in our twenties he was driving a spitfire.  It came with a hard top for the winter, twice a year we would lift that delicately  off or on, to replace it with the summer soft top.   I see No 1 Son’s friends come and go in their MX5s, so ‘keeping up with the Jones’ plays a large part of where his desire has come from.  So why should we deny him this.


I know I will not stop him, I also know that the car is only the first independent step he will take away from us. We will be looking at houses with him before long and then there might be girlfriends more welcome in his home than us.  I hope he will not leave it once a week to contact us and we see more of him than that.  When the children were younger we spent so much time altogether, now he wants to find his own feet and experience his own learning path.

He has just asked us to go and look at a car; bottle green with tan interior and several miles away, although the one he really wants is 138 miles away, black and very sleek.  I can see a few miles being added to my clock before finding the right one. I need to gem up on the technical details for Masda so I don’t look like a dizzy blond knowing nothing.  I admit to a frisson of excitement at the thought of test driving different cars with the wind in my hair and the growing tension waiting for collection day even if it is not mine and the opportunity to drive it may not come very often.  I also admire his taste in cars, which must come from his parents.

I also know that just nipping at the heels is Middle Son, who has yet to learn to drive but will be seeking speed, status and stimulus from his first car.  He will see his older brother racing round the local lanes, and will wish to emulate his freedom.  I am not sure I am quite ready to let Middle Son  have his liberty to grow up just yet, not until he has kerbed his disregard for safety.


Well it is an odd world where I, who wish to write find time very difficult to claim.  I have my three or four jobs however you wish to define them.  I find I am working at very odd hours to fit them all in but it is my writing that suffers, probably as that is the one that I do for love rather than pay.  I need to work on changing that.

It is ironic however that although I have writing of my own to do; I am now working with others to produce articles for industry magazines and editing and proofreading a blog for others.  Is this the way forward?  Take a look at  a Lad from Featherstone.

I still have a story to finish to send off to a magazine, before they change the guidelines again and it is no longer suitable.  I have a half finished article to finish and find a market for;  the planned market, I have decided will not be looking for my style of writing so I need to find somewhere else.   Memories still needs that final edit and rewrite,  I am part way through.  Each night as I collapse with exhaustion, a shiver of guilt runs through me knowing that I should be editing, and I promise that tomorrow will be different…..



Take a look at my cooking blog –  not technical just practical easy meals for a working mother with discerning tastes to cater for.  Teatime Treats with Tiggy.




Parental Pick-up

changing timesIt is not often these days I do the school run but I had to this week and I now realise how far my life has changed.

For 13 years I had children in primary school and although there were many configurations of shared delivery and collection to the schools involved I spent many of those years meeting lively excitable children tumbling from the classroom.   I like most other parents chatted amiably to the others stood in the cold and wet or occasionally glorious sunshine.   The British weather was always a sure fire starting point of conversation.

The playground pick up was a propagating ground for the foundations of lifelong friendships.  Inevitably we grouped around a particular door, or pathway where the year group exploded from at the end of the day.    Also inevitably despite the teachers insisting on parent punctuality, this did not reach as far as the inside of the classroom.

Often, and I should know having been both on the receiving end of this hand of help and having covered for other mothers.   A parent would wait at a younger siblings exit point leaving another to gather an older child from their escape route.   These small gestures of help extended beyond the action itself and sowed the seeds of friendship which were to last long beyond primary school.

Gossip was rife amongst the gatherers who having exhausted the British weather needed other stimuli to satiate their craving for conversation and inclusion.   People were happy to voice their opinions loudly but were also the first to rally round in a crisis.    It was a real treat to be able to help out someone in trouble.  It gave kudos and invited the gossip mongers to clamour like moths around a flame to hear her latest updates.   The helper became the focus with their accessibility and calm remoteness to convey the drama rather than the ragged emotions.

As children reached out to make new friends, they attended birthday parties or sports fixtures outside the protected environment of the school gate confine.   This led to the shared lift culture, giving friends of the children lifts to the said events.  It was reciprocal often one take, one collect but a coffee and cake or biscuits were always on the table at drop off.     Coffee led to longer stops and soon wine or beer as the events reached into evening.  Families got together until finally the children did their own things while the parents all mixed in little cliques of firm familiarity.   The children grew up and went onto top school but the foundations of the friendships formed by the parents flourished.

I went to pick Mini Son up from school this week queueing just to drive up the road even before finding a small space to park the car.   Remaining in the warm car as the hail hurtled earthwards outside dropping large boulders of iced sleet on the windscreen, the radio presenter entertained me with anecdotes, melodies and interviews.  Mini Son in true brotherly solidarity with the older two managed to be the last child to leave the school premises.

As I waited patiently in the cocoon of the car; my thoughts were drawn to the older children erupting from classes in a lava flow of dispersion, wearing nothing but tight skinnies, very mini mini- skirts which may have been large belts and flimsy t-shirts.  Gushing past me into the battered ghosts of once glorious cars which were revved and goaded in ear piercing gear screeching kangaroo jumps; I realised these were once the same children I stood waiting with their parents at the gates of the primary school.  They had shed their cute childish coyness, emerging as confident, self-assured, independent car driving teenagers.

Times they are a changing!


Although I struggle with finding time to write, I am still editing previous work.  I have two stories ready to send to a magazine, one is now as ready as I will ever get it, the other needs more editing – reads ok but way over the word limit so I need to get the knife and hash it about or maybe re-write.  I was challenged to write a piece for competition.  The challenge was not so much in the writing as in the short time I was given to complete it.   I managed it and sent off the piece,  I know it will not come anywhere as it will be up against some big names but to me the act of completing and sending off was the hurdle I successfully overcame.

Memories takes forever to edit as this has to go low down on the to-do pile but the edit is chugging along.  Some major re-writing will follow to hopfully bring it’s appeal to a much wider audiance.  Would love to have this with an agent before my annual inspirational pilgrimage to Swanwick this year, but no promises!

Enjoy the read and let me know how your lives are changing.


Leaving Home

How I came to be stood on Andover train station on a Saturday afternoon nearing the end of November waving inwardly to a disappearing train as realisation hit, is  a different story altogether.  Suffice to say rail engineering works had disrupted the normal timetable and a personal trip to Oxford for a meal led me via Andover.

We arrived at the station and realised we had just missed the train to London, but we had a complicated list of ticket related purchases to organise so the lack of pressure was not unwelcome.   Finally sorted with tickets we made our way to the platform.   A warming cup of tea was essential and a few moments to catch up on all the last 19 years’ worth of chit chat although I was unaware really of the whole significance of the conversation.

Number 1 Son had announced earlier that week that he had enjoyed being up on the boat in London so much that he was going to return this week.    I had persuaded him to delay the trip by a day a couple of times but this time he was serious.  He had negotiated a deal to allow him to stay on the boat for a bit longer, now with packed bag, phone, wallet and probably a few nerves we were sat waiting for a train.

“You do know this is me leaving home?” he informed me “I will only be coming back for visits from now on”

Dismissing the point of the comment I concerned myself with clean underwear, toothbrush, and enough money to buy food.   He had his phone, he had his laptop; I persisted with the importance to call, email, message me in the mornings and evenings just so we knew he was ok.  After all he would be on a cold wet dock with ice and damp a very real threat, no one to notice if he was ok or not.  Deaf ears come to mind.

As the minutes ticked by the tea turned cold in unison with the lead forming in my heart.  He was 18 and about to take a huge step out of our lives and into his own independent future and I could not hold him back.

The announcer informed the sparsely peopled station that the train would arrive in a few moments. Flapping around with all the good motherly advice I could think of to impart to an 18 year old going to find fame and fortune in London.   I knew I had done it at his age but I seemed so much more grown up in those days!

I reeled off a list of where to find temping agencies, suggestions on what searches he could use on the internet, reminded him of all the local jobs he should apply for as he dutifully listened only to file in the ‘delete later’ compartment of his brain.

It was so quick when it came, a flurry of activity as the train whooshed into the station, doors open, a shimmying and pushing as people got off and got on, doors closed and whoosh the train was gone.  And with it my son, my first born, my first to leave the family home, and with him a whole new chapter of his life opened as a huge chapter of mine irreversibly closed.

It took me some while before I stopped staring into the distance imagining I could just see the speck of train through the damp mist forming in my eyes as I squinted.  Slowly, feeling as if part of me had left on the train, I retraced my steps towards the car; empty and lost I continued on my journey.

My efforts to remain cheerful focused on the fact No 1 Son had a 19th birthday the following weekend and was coming back to party with us and friends over a long celebratory weekend so I knew his leaving home was short-lived.  Two weeks after that he would be home again for Christmas, it is a long time since I had yearned for the festive season to arrive so quickly.

He did arrive home for his birthday with the news that he had a job in a bar in the centre of London starting the following week.  Before leaving again he did attend two local job interviews that had come up while he was away.  Careful weighing up and ignoring all the solid advice of his parents as to the security and future of the jobs and how his room was waiting for him to move back in again; all fell into the delete later brain cell.

I found myself 10 days later, again waving to the back of a London bound train with part of my heart aboard it.  Sexy Sporty Dad and I may be incredibly proud of his actions and independence but we are wishing for Christmas to hurry up and bring him safely home. Brave and independent he may be but he also seems completely unable to communicate that he is safe and well.  Although my spy network picks up hints that he seems to be enjoying working and meeting people and the odd phone call home reiterates he is alive and surviving.

With all the technology and gizmos available to us these days I am hoping the miles between are minimised and I can imagine him just upstairs or still out with friends.  Hopefully now that he is becoming a grown up his communications when he does contact us will be far more meaningful than the teenage grunts we have been used to over the past few years.







Evoking Memories

Once upon a long time ago I lived for a while in London.   I am not sure if every large city is like it but there was a particular vitality to the place especially after dark.

I remember the day I arrived; wet behind the ears, fresh from the deepest depths of the Devon countryside.  A fervent member of the Young Farmer movement; having found them the closest beings to inhabit my remote youthful existence, this urban world was totally alien to me. I knew plenty about butter making, pitching in during haymaking and the thrill then loss of baby lambs, but a world full of loud, fast always open buzz was non-existent on my radar.   I took my first intrepid steps into the metropolis of the capital with a heart seized in terror at  the unknown.

I was lucky I was cossetted by the trappings and security of an affluent household in Hampstead where I joined the family as a live in nanny.  With my basic needs provided for I was able to embrace London life to the full.

Late nights and early mornings became the norm, mixing with rich, famous and notorious celebrities as they came and went became the accepted pattern for my new exciting life.  I managed to shed the country bumpkin skin away emerging as a young party animal.  I attended premieres, I partied with the most sparkling in stars, I acquired tickets to all the prestigious events and I loved every moment.  The lights shone and the day never ended just merged to the next.

I would go home to my family still deep within the countryside and not be able to party or buy a kebab on the way home. The only light in the world after midnight would be the stars or the moon or a distant barn heralding a soon to be new little life; but it had lost it’s fun and wonder for me.  I yearned for the hub bub of the town, I needed the noise and smells and I craved the vivacity vibrancy and vivaciousness only offered by the diversity of a busy city.   I had to get back to get my fix of the fun and frivolity that had become my life.

Inevitably I grew up, met and married Sexy Sporty Dad and we had our children who grew and developed in their own special way.

This week I was offered tickets to an Arsenal match at their home ground.  My first hit of nostalgia; I had given up being a supporter or any football since the children had been born.   Rugby had dominated our need for fanaticism over recent years and there was little time to remember that before children I supported the team as well as other sports.

No 1 Son was staying and working on a boat docked in St Katherine’s Dock and I was invited to spend the weekend with him.   Mini Son is the only avid footie fan in our family and despite his possibly paternal passion for Man U, it seemed sensible to take him as they were Arsenal’s opposition.

Stepping off the train at Waterloo I was hit by a familiar excitement in my stomach.   The noise was rising, there was a distinct smell of fresh food blended with diesel and the close proximity of perfume as we queued to go through the barrier.

A walk along the embankment dodging pedestrians, runners, bus queues I gave a sporadic history lesson as sites came to view and remembered stories of old ran through my mind. Music and laughter drifted across the Thames as we walked.  Street sellers called to us enticing us closer to try their wares.  People of all nationalities brushed past us, gabbling away in their native tongue as I tried to identify and inform my young son.

We didn’t reach St Katherine’s Dock by foot, the distance prooving just too far.  Standing by the road Mini Son waved and hailed his first London cab. It was not far to go but by then the relief of having a seat was welcome, it also served as a slight reminder of the years that had passed by since I would jog along the embankment for fun!   We reached the boat and a very welcome cup of tea, tour and tutoring to get on and off the craft, through the barriers and where the slightly more stable roomy pontoon toilets and showers were situated.

It was time then to take the tube.   Hanging on for dear life to a reluctant twelve year old as we hopped on and off trains, cut through from tube line to tube line and joined and ever increasing heaving mass of bodies, singing anthems, cheering and moving inevitably towards the stadium.  If I ever imagined I might not find the way; I had forgotten my own mantra; “to follow the crowd”.   The swelling crowd moved methodically through the mechanical motions towards the bright, loud alluring ground.

It was sad that probably my only opportunity to see the team I once supported so avidly lost to one of their greatest rivals but for my young son, his first ever footie match was quite a spectacle to behold.   We were of course in the home team stands and a very contained little boy cheered inwardly as each goal against us was shot.

At the end of the match and amidst a fairly hostile and emotional crowd we moved momentarily closer to the tube as the thousands of fans poured along the streets towards the station.   Finally hanging closely onto Mini Son with No 1 Son leading the way we made our way through the underground to where we were meeting friends for a meal.

This was the night life I remembered, a brightly lit, noisy esplanade spilling over with restaurants, wine bars and nightclubs.   Different cultural aromas emanating from each kitchen tantalising the taste buds as people thronged past.   We were headed for a little Indian place our friends knew well but when we arrived it was no longer there.   Not lost for choice we opted for the Turkish place next door.

A mezze of different authentic dishes were placed on our table.  We tasted, tried and tested tiny morsels and larger bites of unpronounceable delicacies.  We drank house wine and finished off with more delicious sweeteners leaving the area still fully alive and thriving despite the later or by now early hours of the morning.  Before grabbing a cab we ran into a 24 hour supermarket to pick up the essentials like milk and cereal for the morning.

I fell asleep on a bustle of clashing dreams, colours vibrant and strong, noise chasing through my mind, my nose wrinkling at the memory of the mass of varying menus and the hustle of being part of a throng.  It was a nostalgic pull to my past.

We woke, the rain poured, the light was dull and it was cold.  I clambered off the boat inelegantly and showered in the block.  There was no way back but through the torrential rain and to scramble back over the rail to the warmth of the deck below.

DSC_0048I had planned to take Mini Son to the Tower of London, I wanted to see the remains of the powerful poppy exhibition remembering the fallen from history  and he had just finished studying the princes in the tower, at school.  We did go but the short walk across to the entrance drowned our spirits with the monotonous drip drip drip of rain.   Through two layers of coat and hoody the water seeped chilling the bone.  We followed a few other brave souls round through the ancient historical rooms unable to feel anything but cold and damp.  By the time we reached the room the little princes were kept; all remaining empathy had been diluted and washed away and we returned finally deflated to the deluged docks.

Deferring plans to visit the science museum we headed back to Waterloo and took a long winded journey home avoiding engineering works before Mini Son alighted from the train and exploded with all the enclosed excitement into his father’s waiting arms:

“We won, we beat them.  Man U won the match!”

Tripping down memory lane and sharing the places with my children brought back the fun and excitement of visiting London but the welcome smell of my husband’s home-made meal and a large cuppa reminded me of where I really want to be; tucked up at home watching the telly with my family.  Nostalgia just isn’t what it used be, it has its place tied up with memories and emotion but not necessarily a tug to go back.





Jump Start

It started with the inevitable call and I knew; if Number 1 son was calling it was not to say he loved me or how was I, and most definitely not to offer to do the shopping in order to cook the tea.   Although technically I was working I was between jobs. I had just finished one and was driving towards the other who also had a crisis.

I answered the phone, on my hands free and was not disappointed.

There was a problem.

His car would not start and they could not get the jump leads to help.  What they expected me to do I did not know but I brought the calm voice of reason and had the lads push me in his car into a parking space.   I discovered on this tiny journey, the extent of his car’s complete lethargy; the power assisted steering was not working and it took all my strength to pull the car into a space.  I touched the brakes and realised as I limped past the painted line that there was no power to the brakes either. Panic as the car continued forward had me jumping on the footbrake and hauling the hand version on at the same time.

Vacating the driver’s seat with the alacrity and speed of someone sitting in a pool of iced water I carefully locked his door.   As if anyone else was going to try and jump start it before stealing it!

With an authoritive and commanding air I walked into the shop and found the manager explaining the situation and I would be sorting it out but may take longer than the allotted 90 minutes I was permitted to park.

Returning to the car I was unsure of the next step;  do I call the AA, do I call the garage direct and get them to collect it or do I just toss the keys into the skip being used in the car park for some building works and walk away.

No 1 Son now seriously delayed in his daily plans was agitated and keen to get off but was stranded and stroppy having not had a good week with the car.    He did agree to drop me at home so I could collect my fun weekend car and then he was gone.

By the time my thoughts returned to the car crisis that evening Sexy Sporty Dad was home and we drove down in his new, as in we had owned for a matter of weeks, executive car.   No 1 Son’s car had not moved, and we set about positioning the new car to start it with the leads.    Bravely digging under a deposit of teenage debris and malodorous discarded gym wear I desperately searched the car for the leads.

The jump leads were not in the car; that at least was as evident, as the fact we were not going to get it to start.

Sexy Sporty Dad offered me the chance to tow or be towed.  Thankfully a jolting reminder and a still stiff arm from having to pull the steering wheel into position assured me that I did not want to be in the towed car.  If anyone was going to drive into the back of his brand new car it was going to be him not me.

Digging deep into the recesses of his mind he tied several remembered sailing knots before settling on the one that would suffice and we hitched the two cars together.

Slowly, slowly, slowly I pulled away, a heart wrenching clunk and tug as the rope tightened and I felt the resistance from the car behind.  It began to pull and through my mirror I could see my husband’s face but more importantly his hand gestures.   Two cars in tandem moved onto the high street and headed for home.

Watching the road, the heavy early evening traffic and aware of the load I was towing it took a while to realise he wanted me to turn off the road.  He was signalling for me to take the next road up a hill to the school.  The no through road!

Bewildered I obeyed, and following his instructions through the mirror I hauled the car up the hill and pulled off into the school where he directed me to stop.  I slowed carefully as he braked in unison.  Glad of the respite but aware of the journey still to go I breathed, possibly for the first time since we had started out.

He had the idea that before we venture down the most precarious part of the trip; down the steep hill to traffic lights, he wanted to have a go at jump starting the engine.  We disconnected and set him at the entrance to the school and waited.

Apart from school times nobody used the road except to reach the leisure centre and it must have been changeover time for the various courses as there was a steady flow of cars coming up the hill followed by a steady flow going down the hill.  I waited to direct him on to the road, he might be lucky enough to get a little push as he passed but I was not running down the road pushing the car; those days are way beyond me now.

The gap arrived and with it my arm gestured wildly to go go go.   The car free wheeled out of the school gates, onto the road and off down the hill.   I ran, or rather strolled back to the waiting car wishing the other to start.   I turned the car round and headed myself back through the school gates.

Once back on the road I could see the car at the bottom of the hill.  He was already out of it and setting the tow rope back in position by the time I reached him.

Knowing the route to come I felt sick with terror;  it was a main road, cars, kids, bikes all rushing around.  We needed to descend the hill down to traffic lights that always switch to red, regardless of anyone wanting to come on to the road or cross.   He had unusable brakes and I was so closely in front driving his precious new car.  Admittedly it was a miracle at all for me to be permitted to drive it.  I focused on that thought for a moment.

That clunk and tug told me we were engaged and I pulled back to the high street, and then to the roundabout onto the main road.  It was still busy, and although he gestured through our mirror communicator, I could see what was coming on to the roundabout he could not.  I needed to be sure I could engage, ease and enter the traffic flow with both cars before I launched.

A clearing in traffic, a deep breath; it may have to last all the way home and I pulled, clunk and tug and we were off again.   With my hazards flashing madly, nobody could read my directional plans so thankfully people kept back, or went wide to nip past.  We reached the brow, not just the hill it was the sudden stop at the lights that would prove to be the challenge.

We were over I kept the speed low, we descended the hill slowly.  I realised I could smell burning through the open window.  Should I stop and how can I indicate that to the car behind.  Realisation it was not my car that was burning it was the brakes of the towed car.   I continued one eye on my mirror expecting guidance.  We reached the lights glowering red at me.  Touching my brakes gently to flash brake lights behind, I touched again and again as we slowed even more.  We had not even stopped when with a wink of wit the lights began their sequence of amber to green. I kept going.

Back onto the flat, the burning smell eased slightly and I could feel the pull behind, one more set of  lights before we turned off; they were on the flat.   It is funny how I had never really thought about the contours of the route to town before.  We reached the lights and came to a stop, now in the home neighbourhood, people came out to wave, children laughing at the car being towed.  A break in oncoming traffic allowed me to pull forward;  the lights changed.  I was already committed and in so doing the car behind was also committed.  A now familiar pull, clunk and tug and we were headed for home, kerplunk over the slow-down humps in the road, and a slowing to turn into our narrow road.   We squeezed past the cars parked on both sides and came to a welcome halt outside the house.

Leaping from the car I succumbed slightly to push the other to the side and then graciouslessly left hubby to park his car while I put the kettle on for a much needed strong tea.   The phone was ringing as I got inside.

No 1 Son replying to my earlier irate message left on his phone about the jump leads.

“I didn’t want to leave them in case they were stolen so I put them in your car”

“and where is my car now?”

“I have it with me, I am about 20 miles away and will be back in the morning”

At least I wasn’t driving the old car,  the brakes albeit worn are still intact, a new battery  will be on the weekend’s shopping list. And a strong cup of tea does wonders for the nerves.






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