Picture this: you’re all set for a normal day. Well not quite normal – normally I would wake up on a Thursday at 06.30am, get washed and dressed, grab my coffee and be out of the house by 7 on the road to start work at 8am. On this particular Thursday I had a different scenario. The hubster was down in Exeter yesterday running in a 10-mile race and stayed down there overnight. I was tasked with getting the children up fed and dressed and JJ to school for 08.45am which is what happened. Then I had to pop to the supermarket with EJ before transferring him over to the town where my in-laws live and I also work, dropping him there and getting myself into the office for 10.30am. So far so good…
Then we hit the main A road that links our two towns – a ten mile stretch – and almost immediately grind to a halt. Hmm. A little traffic I think to myself. Ten minutes later we haven’t moved an inch and I phone both the in-laws and my work to tell them that I’m likely to be a little late. I get out my coffee and EJ begins to demand I hand it over. When I don’t, he cries. I phone the hubster to tell him what’s happened and ask him where he is on his journey back east. When I hang up EJ demands my phone. When I don’t give it to him, he cries. Two ambulances and a police car pass us on the hastily carved out ‘middle track’ (there is no hard shoulder). Other people begin to reverse back down this track to attempt a u-turn at a suitable place (this is a dual carriageway divided by a hedged, grassy bank). I dismiss this notion as dangerous madness.
EJ begins to cry in earnest. It is that screaming, bored, frustrated crying which nothing is going to assuage. The muzzies begin shooting over the car like missiles. Even the precious dummy is flung with anger in my general direction. I phone my mum and tell her what’s happened (using the call to explain the mystery of EJ’s disappearing shoes (his brother threw them over the garden fence two days ago). EJ is happy to say hello and goodbye to Grandma.
By this point we have been sat still in the car for 20 minutes. I think, enough is enough, and attempt to reverse down the middle track which has somehow closed up a bit in the interim. A kindly lady runs up to tell me that I won’t be able to get round the U-turn as it’s now completely blocked. I pull back in to the left lane. Thinking on my feet I begin entertaining EJ with a game of ‘pop-up’ monkey – magicking his soft toy round the side and over the top of the passenger seat next to me. He thinks this is hilarious and begins flinging his muzzies over Monkey each time he pops up. This game lasts about 5-10 minutes before I can take no more. We are still in the same place on the road and have now been here for 40 minutes.
I switch on to the local radio channel and almost immediately find out that there has been a ‘serious’ accident about five miles up the road ahead of us, the road has been closed both ahead and behind us and we are now, essentially, trapped in the middle. A low-flying helicopter hovers above us. It seems we have hit the road at exactly the wrong moment.
I look in the rearview mirror and see other people behind making their way up round the u-turn and make the decision to attempt this course of action again. This time I am successful!! We are finally moving again, albeit in the wrong direction. I take a long route home as there is a lot of traffic coming off at the next slip road. Now I wonder, do I attempt an alternative route? But no, stuff that, the roads in to town will be jam-packed with people who have been diverted off and the thought of getting myself and EJ stuck in another jam – one we can’t escape from – is too much to bear.
I phone work – arrange to take the rest of the day off. EJ is obviously relieved to be out of the car and I get him a bowl of Shreddies and put on Cbeebies. He is happy. I am happy, but sad that my already squeezed annual leave is being siphoned off in this unpredictable way.
EJ is now in his cot, having a nap. And here I am. What a strange day…