Ice Road Trucker

Don’t be my friend, it is dangerous.  I just can’t help but share.

This morning my phone rang, it was Hero.  Laughing.  What a nice surprise.  Although perhaps a little disturbing.  “I thought I’d ring and give you a giggle”,  “OK” I said, never one to turn down the opportunity for a chortle,  “I’m stuck”, “How, why, where and how again?”,  “I tried to get up the hill to the garden but started slipping backwards, so I thought I would carefully, and in full control of the car, reverse back down.  I ended up 1cm from Peter’s wall and I can’t go forward and I can’t go backwards and I’ve blocked the road”, “Oh dear”, more manic laughter, “I’m shaking”, “Do you need to go to the loo?”, “Well I didn’t until you mentioned it, I suppose at least it would melt the ice”.

Several years ago we were driving to work in similarly icy conditions and had ourselves an incident.  On that occasion we had a close encounter with a dry stone wall.  The day before I had filled a bucket with grit from the silo opposite the garden and used this to help us get out.  Let me mention two things at this juncture, first of all this is the only time I have knowingly done anything sensible, secondly you are not supposed to “half inch” this grit and if anyone reports me to the authorities I will deny it and this blog will spontaneously combust.  I suppose breaking the law isn’t very sensible.  Disregard the first.  But I had learned from this experience.

“Have you got any grit in the car?”, “No but I can see a container just up the hill and I think I’ve got a carrier bag somewhere, the problem is that it is too slippy to get out of the car.  Actually, if I walk up the narrow grass verge I might make it, I’ll call you back”, “If you fall over aim to land on your bottom”.  Always ready with a top tip.

Time passes. I imagine broken limbs, a severely bruised behind. My phone rings.

“I managed to get there and back, scattered the grit and now I’m waiting for the thaw”, “Shall we come over?”, “Then we will both be stuck”, “OK, shall I send a drone with a bacon butty for you”, “You could send a man in a helicopter to climb down a rope ladder”, “I’ll see if I can find his number, call me when you are free”.  I was left wondering if she wanted to be rescued by Helicopter Man or just have him deliver the sandwich.

Time passes.  I imagine a painfully swollen bladder.  I message her.

“I’m home now, some nice people who had been walking on the beach found me, the man managed to get the car out of its tricky predicament, all is well.”

Once more the kindness of strangers.  There is a lot of it about.

Later she popped around for a cup of tea and a couple of ginger nuts.  She seemed relatively unscathed.  Still laughing.

An Alternative Christmas Message (no corgis)

It is nearly here.  Whether you immerse yourself completely in the festivities or hole up in a cave on top of Ben Nevis until it is all over, tomorrow is Christmas Day.  Personally I love it, although I can understand why people distance themselves from the excesses and unnecessary pressures.   I love it because it is the time of the year when people seem less embarrassed, not so self-conscious, to be nice to one another.  Not everyone, that is true.  At this very moment the food hall of M&S might be a little less kindly, sharpened knitting needles may be involved.   But many do find it within themselves to be more thoughtful and empathetic, to smile at strangers and wish happiness and merriment to people they have only just met. To link arms and sing songs about peace and joy. And I like that very much.  It shows great potential for western civilisation.*

Enjoy yourselves whichever route you are taking.  And I wish you and yours a splendid 2020.  Keep the faith, whatever that might be.

* Philosophy thanks to The Muppet Christmas Carol.


This morning I started a new job.  I think it is going to be a good one.

They have compost bins and a greenhouse.  They said the words “environmentally friendly”.  The soil is free draining.  It is a windy site but has sun.  It is flat.  It is only 20 minutes from home.  I haven’t seen any mind your own business.  They say please and thank you.  Coffee is good.  And this little chap lives there.

Hail storms notwithstanding, it was good a start.  I think it is going to be a good one.

Leaving Home

Tomorrow my next door neighbour’s daughter is leaving for university.  She is a lovely lass and I am sure she will do well.

We caught the train from St Ives to London, me and my Dad, and stayed overnight with my Aunty Joy.  In the morning we drove down to Kent in her purple mini.  I remember telling him to go, because more than anything I didn’t want him to leave me.  The anticipation of the parting pain was too much.  I sat on the institutional bed in my hall of residence room, all alone in the world and beside myself with terror and sorrow.  Then a tap at my door, and the smiling face of someone who was to become a friend for life.  An ally when I most needed it.  A threshold had been crossed.

I made Meg a bouquet of dried lavender flowers to take with her.   It may help.

Birthday Blog

Today is my birthday.  I love birthdays.  I may have mentioned it before.  Any excuse to be special for a day.  But I am not telling you this in the faint hope you might send me a tiara or a Nebuchadnezzar of Dom Perignon.  A nod and a smile would be quite enough.  A kiss might be nice.

For some reason on this day I have been reminded of when my much-loved Dad died.  Returning to work the top boss, who I did not respect and therefore did not consider to have any authority over me and was not to be confused with my proper boss who was a gent and an Irishman, said “this happens every day” in way of condolence. I am not being maudlin, I am just wondering why he thought it an appropriate thing to say.

But of course it does.  As do birthdays.