At midnight on Monday, I and my overstayed house guests, set off on the 800 return journey to Bristol, with me driving the whole way. Did you know that wartime pilots were given Benzedrine to keep them awake whilst on night bombing raids? I had recourse only to a Thermos of coffee on the way there, and a series of irritating drivers on the way back, to whom I could rant, incoherently.
These days, driving those kinds of distances is novel and quite shocking. You get to see life in the raw. Bristol was a shock. I haven't seen it in seven years. It's filthy. As the morning was getting under way there were numerous cleaners and security people hosing down the front doorways - God only knows what they were hosing down - and dozens of very stinky looking people on bicycles, the sort with dreadlocks who look like animal rights protesters, were making there way somewhere with plastic bags on the handlbars of their stolen bikes. (Bike stealing in Bristol is a sort of game whereby you buy a bike, and the next day, no matter how careful you are, it gets nicked. You have to think of it as community re-cycling) (geddit?) I didn't see any of the some 20,000 failed Somali Asylum seekers, currently availing themselves of taxpayer's money. They have imported their own celebration of diversity by diversifying largely into crime. Even the BBC and the loonies in the council admit its a problem, but with idiots like Kerry McCarthy and Dim Prawnarolo as MPs, you are going to get plenty of "good news" about them too.
No, Bristol is a dump, and was when I lived there after moving from London. It is somehow more noticeable when viewing it from afar. I also liked the way ASDA has a "24 hour superstore" outwith the city, but when I tried to get in it at a quarter to eight in the morning I was told it was closed until eight. (Just what definition of "24 hour" are they working on?
Thankfully, the drive was trouble free. The car goes like stink and is comfy, though my bum vibrated for several hours after returning, and my back ached, and apart from a few dolts who like to do 30mph on perfectly clear roads where the limit is 60, and especially on bits where you cannot overtake, my time behind the wheel was as relaxing as you can expect. On the way back I mostly listened to my own compilations of Eurodisco.
For reasons I still cannot fathom I elected to return via the A7 from Carlise to Edinburgh. This is one of the best ways to travel up to Scotland and the scenery is wonderful and diverse. Not a good idea though if you are sleep deprived and in a hurry. I reached Langholm, a picturesque town that nestles among the hills; lush and tidy. I went to the loo at the car park down by the river; as usual for many parts of Scotland, it was spotless, smelled gently of cleaning unguents and devoid of graffiti. Gone were the bitter memories of service station pissoirs where a rather ugly attendant pushed a filthy mop around and then ticked the little "this facility has been cleaned at.." box. "Welcome to Scotland, Ged" I whispered to myself.
(I am now a day behind, not to say still shattered. blogging will be light)