Thursday, 2 July 2009

Dies Irae

I have no intention of moaning about the weather; I think it's a regrettable part of the British psyche that we are inclined to moan about whatever weather we have and yearn for what we don't. Rain is rubbish, and I think I speak for everyone when I say this (apart from ducks and gardeners - and in the latter case, hurrah! Enjoy your garden! And the fact that there hasn't yet been a hosepipe ban! In the former case, migrate already!).
I will, however, just offer you an instance under which rain and/or typically British low summer temperatures might be preferable.
Imagine you are on a journey; it is a short journey (average under one and a half hours). Between two major English cities - let's say London and Oxford. On a coach company who will remain nameless, but let's call them BUM RUBBISH CRAP BUM BUM POO Limited.
Many different choices would have been made in my life had I been in possession of all the facts before making a decision.
For example, had I been in possession of the fact (as the coach company were) that a large part of the M40 was closed off due to a lorry bursting into flames.

(Not actually this lorry. Looks dramatic though, doesn't it? It had bloody better, is all I can say.)

Or the fact that this meant that ALL traffic between the two hypothetical cities was diverted down what amounts to, frankly, a cart-track (or, as it is officially known, the A40). A very scenic and pretty road, but there's a reason it isn't the main artery between the two cities.
Or that, due to the day in question being Oxford University Open Day, every form of transport between EVERYWHERE IN BRITAIN and Oxford would be heaving with excitable teenagers absolutely bursting to get to Oxford and do their big Mary Tyler Moore twirl in the street, throw hat in the air, yes YES I'm going to take this city and make it my own... Oh you know.
In a nutshell, I ended up jammed up against a coach window while Saffy or Ottoline or Tash or whatever (pick one) spent the journey shrieking on her mobile phone, No but she's like sooo not like capable of y'know like expanding on the question, I mean I like said to her but like did Darcy and Elizabeth like DO IT and she just went like quiet and she like just can't think outside the like text as the coach crawls (or, at times, just sits) down a succession of very pretty country lanes, somewhere in the middle of a huge trail of traffic doing the same thing.
FOR FOUR AND A HALF HOURS.
I checked - at one point we took an hour to go 4 miles. I was on the verge of getting off, walking a couple of miles up the queue, and seeing if there was another coach further up. As the engine idled, so did the aircon. Saffy/Ottoline/Tash started to do that aggrieved heavy sigh thing which teenagers the world over don't seem to realise doesn't actually make things happen any faster.
Oh all right, I'll cut a long story short. We finally got to London, by which time I had the desire to kiss the tarmac, smoke five cigarettes at once, and hurl forcibly into the nearest bin the Iris Murdoch I had read twice on the journey.

On the plus side, my increasingly unhinged and rambling texts had alerted Mr Fishwife to my impending meltdown, so he had the wine ready.
I won't complain again. This is beautiful weather. Not for travellers in coaches who might have taken the train home had they been apprised of the true nature of things by the BUM RUBBISH CRAP BUM BUM POO Ltd coach company, but you know. Mustn't grumble.

23 comments:

Reluctant Blogger said...

OH yes, I adore this weather.

Bummer re the coach. I hate coaches although perhaps less so than trains.

I too was stuck in traffic yesterday. We decided to go to the Norfolk Show. The Showground is 6 miles from my house (so a bit far to walk on a hot day) and it took me 2 hours and 20 mins to drive there!!! The children had eaten most of the picnic by the time we arrived.

But I love the heat and I love the sunshine. But I think it is about to fizzle out. Am enjoying the last of it now!

That lorry is very dramatic - could account for the heatwave on its own really.

JonathanM said...

Could have been worse, you could have taken Tender is the Night with you, or some Hemingway. Mind you, I'm not sure I'd like to read a Dame Iris twice in four and a half hours either.Especially if it was one of the later barking mad ones.

Lucy Fishwife said...

It was "The Severed Head" (1961) and I hated every single character in it. I wanted them all to die in a fiery lorry crash on the M40. Mind you, I should probably read it again now I'm not on the coach suffering teenspeke and prickly low-cost plush seat coverings. I might take a mellower view.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Sorry RB! I wasn't ignoring you. I spoke too soon as the inevitable ominous black clouds have just gathered. Since I have no umbrella it will of course rain, probably at 5.45 as I lock the shop door and walk out into a monsoon. Oh well. Yes, I hate coaches - I really should learn to drive.

Nora Johnson said...

Was stuck in traffic, too, in January and missed my flight back to Andalucia because of the 'wrong' kind of snow or some other inane excuse surrounded by rows and rows of Henriettas and Daisys on their mobiles: I was sooo like not wanting to see HIM! And he was like "But I sooo want to see YOU..." etc etc!

Hope you've recovered from a journey that has produced such a witty & apposite post!

Nora

PS You're going to get as fed up and frustrated with all these sad yarns as you were on THAT journey!

screamish said...

the severed head. How fitting. perhaps you should have flashed it as Saffy/Tash/Priscilla or whatever her name was.

It's hot here too...(france)...its almost 10 pm and its still 28 degrees. ERGH.

Bus trips can be hell. sympathies. but Mr Fishwife sounds understanding!

screamish said...

oh my god is that Obama smoking?? He looks like a 1950s film noir character. how cool. I had no idea

mantua maker said...

What! you got on that bus with only one book! I was on that very bus the other day (with your mother as it happens) and there was much surprise when I produced two big books, a mac (for that unexpected storm which I had predicted), two bottles of water, a pair of non-party shoes, two crosswords (one cryptic, one jumbo general knowledge), a "diabolical" sudoku (which your stepfather finished off quickly while we were on the Circle Line), and a packet of swiss herb lozenges - all in one little rucksack. If I'd had more time to prepare and hadn't been hurried by he to whom I'd have had a thermos, a laptop, CDs, DVDs, sandwiches etc. Don't like to travel light, especially on that bloody bus.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Nora - Oh how much worse are they on a plane??? I have to admit it could have been worse; at least I had a rather beautiful view of sunbaked fields to divert me from the chatter.

Screamish - Lucky you being in France - it never feels as bad. And at night you can sit outside avec Gauloise et Calvados and appreciate le majesty du ciel full d'etoiles. Obama is undeniably a film noir character. All he needs is a trilby. He's so cool (swoon).

MM - God, how big is your handbag???? Although I once astonished a general group by having not only a tin opener but also a corkscrew in my bag.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Oh dear.

I regularly take this route and it is normally ok, though there was one horrid time when the coach broke down and it took more than 3hours to get to London and I'd nearly missed the evening event I had gone down for.

Always worth checking there isn't some protest going on around Hyde Park that will close Park Lane down at weekends too, but I guess crashes are less planned.

Poor you! The least they could have done is apologise.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Hi Laura - yes I use it quite a lot too, the more so since my parents have moved back to Oxford and I agree it's usually very good! I felt very sorry for the driver - I don't think it was his fault, and as we drew up to Shepherd's Bush he made an announcement along the lines of "Now you can tell your friends that you've had the worst coach journey in the world..."...

French Fancy said...

Now you just be grateful that I wasn't sitting beside you because I would have Moaned for England. In a situation like that it is just so terrible that nothing can make one feel better.

Yes, learn how to drive - good idea :)

(am enjoying the Byatt now, despite some initial reservations - but she sure does love her metaphors!)

Lucy Fishwife said...

Moaning is always great when there are two of you travelling together - then you can make sarky faces when the driver makes announcements. Or mouth the word "Twat" at each other when bloke in seat in front of you gets bored and starts playing about with the ringtones on his phone.
I would learn to drive but (a) when? (b) HOW much????? .
ASByatt is a bugger for metaphors. Be thankful she isn't Nabokov, who is not only metaphor-heavy but also sneering at your puny attempts to understand his genius.

Mwa said...

Must have been hell. Could only have been more hellish on British Rail.

I liked the title of your post, having just sung a Requiem this year. It was especially nice in combination with "BUM RUBBISH CRAP BUM BUM POO". :-)

Lucy Fishwife said...

Mwa - oh I agree. And on trains the random nutters aren't confined to their seats, but free to roam freely, sharing their views on immigration and alien abduction with anybody unlucky enough to catch their eye (usually me)...

JamaGenie said...

I just came over from Lola's (and Nora's) and am soooo glad I did. The title is what first got my attention, and your writing certainly fits it!

As for the non-stop moblie talker, do these people not realize mobiles are small enough these days that they can be easily shoved down one's throat, never to be seen again until the autopsy??? ;D

Duchess of Tea said...

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I will be delighted if you get a chance and stop by my cottage for some tea and if you have a moment, please join my followers, I would like more people to find your site.
Duchess xx

Lucy Fishwife said...

JamaGenie - hello! And thank you! I was actually about to start dreaming up new ways of torturing her to death with her mobile (forcing her to eat all the components bit by bit like Laurence Olivier in "Marathon Man") but I was distracted by how terrible my book was. Rock, hard place...

Duchess of Tea - I will visit and leave my card with your butler. This is great - I now have a poet laur(a)eate AND royalty! Damn, I've arrived!

Provincial Lady said...

Owww, I had that once, what is it about the M40 that induces spontaneous combustion in lorries? After 4 1/2 hours the coach driver let us off in Ealing, and I'm sure there are nice bits of it but all we saw was a grotty little overground-underground station that didn't connect with any other underground station that I'd ever heard of.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Provincial Lady - hmmmm Ealing. Or "Healing" as it is also known. Parts of it are gorgeous, and have lovely lovely Victorian houses and parkland, while parts of it are like downtown Baltimore (if what I've seen on "The Wire" is accurate). Gotta love London. I have to say I've had great experiences on that coach journey but this was the exception that proved the rule...

Duchess of Tea said...

I have been visiting your blog every chance I get and I am now completely and 100% hooked and addicted to it. Sooo interesting, thank you thank you for this blog!1

Duchess xx

Vodka Mom said...

it is 88 degrees here today,with 95 percent humidity. I don't want to COMPLAIN, but let's just say I am in my house with the AIR CONDITIONING ON.


in PA.

In the US.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Duchess - A pleasure! Come by any time! Will stop by yours in a minute!

Vodka Mom - 95% humidity is my idea of hell. Also makes my hair go unpleasantly curly - I spend most holidays looking like Harpo Marx. The UK is very backward about aircon - shops and cinemas have it, but homes definitely don't. My version is to open all the windows, lie on the floor and pour myself a cold drink.