Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Rural Commuter At The Computer

I was disappointed to see that it was 8:04. I make it a rule to have left the house by 8:00. Between 7:54 and 8:00 is good. 8:04 means that I'm running really late. To make matters worse, I promised to fill up the green car with petrol, after the light came on last night as I pulled into our road. This is bad news. Deciding to deal with this problem later, I got on with the most important thing in the world - what will I eat today?

With mounting dissapointment I remembered that my lunch is left over carrot and coriander soup that Polly made yesterday using the first recipe we found after typing "carrot and coriander soup" into google. After blending it last night it looked thin and tasted of carrot water, so I added a pint of lentils and simmered it for 10 minutes. It then looked like this, so we sat down to eat it. At this point, Polly and I admitted to each other that neither of us like carrot and coriander soup - but at least we used all those carrots and all that coriander. I chucked 2 capfuls of tamari into it and placed it into a box. Now it looked like this...

I like this green box. I use it every day. When I say every day, I mean once a week. It was an absolute miracle that the box was in the box drawer ready to use. Usually the morning rush involves a 20 minute shout about getting the boxes sorted out. I have 4 boxes at school at the moment, so it is all my fault.

Piece of luck no. 2 - all my pocket stuff was lined up and ready to go. I must have elves.

We are running low on apples and grapefruit at the moment, but have loads of rasberries, so I decided to take a couple of punnets to munch on at work, knowing full well that they would be unsatisfyingly slight.

Other assorted junk that I needed to take - notes from a meeting, my book to read during the SATs and a cd that I got out of the library last night to listen to in the car.

I want to you to imagine me now. I have in my hands two punnets of strawberries, a box of carrot, lentil and coriander soup, a book, some papers, and a cd. When I say in my hands, I should be a little more specific, I have this all balanced in my left hand. With my right hand I am holding my camera, taking pictures of everything I'm doing so that I can blog. I've been looking at my a-list pal's blog and been thinking "how exciting life is on the subway commuter belt," and then realised that maybe my journey is exciting too, so I'm going to document it today.

I left the house and walked towards the car, using my free right hand to rummage in my right pocket. Of course, my car keys are in my left pocket.

I have no idea how I got the door open - some sort of right hand left pocket reach around action going on - and I chucked everything on the front seat of my car.

I looked at the pile of stuff on my front seat and realised that I couldn't struggle into school with all that stuff balanced in my hands, so I ran back to the house, when I saw this sitting on the doorstep. Quickly I ran to the fridge and out to the back kitchen to get a plastic bag from our plastic bag collection.

And I picked one which I considered to be suitable.

Running back to the car, I slammed the door.

I slammed it so hard that it bounced back open so I had to go back, take a picture of it and then run to the car. Now I am starting to get a little frantic, as I seem to be trapped in an endless loop of not quite being able to set off, which is being worsened by the pressure of having to photograph everything.

What a filthy, horrid car. Never mind. Quick time check.

Great. I've been going so fast I've managed to stop and reverse time. Either that or the car clock is running a little slow.

The car clock was running a little slow. It was now getting late. I did that thing where I stand there looking like nothing is going on. If you were to pass by this morning you would have seen me, paused between the two cars with a slightly confused look on my face. Inside, I was burning with inner turmoil, my mind batting around the question or whether I should try to fill up with petrol this morning or whether I should annoy Polly by leaving her the petrol deficient engine and driving off in the auto.

I decided that I would be able to make it to the petrol station and jumped into the car. Took out the cd that I've been listening to all week and

pushed in the new one. It took three goes to get the car started, but eventually I managed to. I drove to the end of our drive (about half a meter).

Cars only sit outside our house if the traffic is queueing, and if the traffic is queueing then there's no way I'm going to get to the petrol station, fill up, pay, take pictures of the whole thing and get to work on time. I ran back into the house to explain to Polly that I was going to take the silver car, not the green one.

First though, I had to bag everything up to transfer it to the silver car. I put the soup at the bottom of the bag and started to get worried about spillage onto the papers, so I put raspberries on top of the soup, then papers on top of raspberries. Still paranoid about the raspberries making the papers go raspberry stained, I made the snap decision to put up and shut up and went over to the silver car.

First and most important thing to do was get the cd changer out of the car and sort out today's listening, as I've only got it out of the library for a week, and no way would I be able to ever listen to it again unless I rented it out again, so I wanted to maximise my enjoyment.

Whoops - got so carried away by listening to the right music that I forgot to take a photo of me opening the boot, so this will have to suffice. Look at the cool accessory on my key ring. It is the most fashionable thing for kids aged between 7 - 11 right now. I'd make a pretty cool 10 year old girl.

Laugh like a drain. Why? Because look - in my haste to get the cd out of the green car, I accidently put the key to the silver car in the ignition of the green car.

Aaaah, that's better.

Switch ignition to "on". Now I can get my cd out of the green car...

and put it into the silver car.

In my haste to get all this done, I had forgotten to lock the green car door. Whilst locking the door I checked to see if I had a car seat to bring Elly home from Nursery, and this led me to remember that I needed my security card key to pick her up. Not having a card key means either knocking on the nursery office door and annoying the staff there, or hanging furtively around outside, pretending to tie shoelaces etc. until someone starts walking towards the door, then breezily walking over and waiting while they unlock the door, murmuring "thanks" and smiling a bit too falsely.

Polly asked me what I was still doing here, then tried to give me the passports and the bank forms for opening a family benefit account. This needs to be verified by a professional, so I thought I'd ask a teacher. I like to think she was delighted when I said "no, hang on, I need to take a picture of you handing that to me," although it's more likely to have been a look of horror or exasperation on her face as she posed for this photo.

I couldn't see the card straight away, but stared into the key drawer for a while longer and it appeared in front of my eyes.

I managed to get into the car, get the car started and pulled out into the road. Then I saw this guy. He is bin liner bike man, and every now and again I get stuck behind him on the very narrow hill road behind my house. It is a pain in the arse because I can't overtake him, and the bin liner enclosed whatever it is - I always think it looks like a rabbit cage - wobbles most precariously. To add insult to the whole matter my CD was badly inserted and won't play, so I am having to listen to the new great white hope 19 year old folk singer, and I'm not loving him as much as the old new great white hope slightly older but not much emotional us folk singer who does the odd digital thing who I wanted to listen to this morning.

I think that this is a good time to check my watch - behind a totally vulnerable cyclist on one of the most hellish roads in Cambridge. V. Ethical.

Eventually I manage to overtake the cyclist and stick carefully to the speed limit all the way down the hill. Once I drove down the hill at 80 mph to impress my friends Jon and Jo as they drove behind me in a mini cooper. They said they were well impressed and that they thought it was a "very eco" way to drive.

There's lots of farms round between my house and my work. This morning I didn't get stuck behind a tractor, but lots of people did. I'm sure they didn't mind. Their misfortune cheers me up and I am starting to enjoy my music, although I'm still a bit gutted that I messed up loading the cd player.

Polly always says she can tell when I am driving tired, and I always get cross and shout at her for saying anything. When I see how I look when I am reasonably alert, I can understand her naked fear. I was driving nice and fast now, and getting excited about getting to work.

As I drove past this truck I thought about Willie Gough, who used to be in my class at school. He was a terifically funny chap, but we never really got on that well. I wonder what he is doing now? It's a bit of a lie that I thought about him, I actually thought "Get a shot of that truck, then say that I thought about Willie Gough". He used to hang around with David Jackson, who lived up my road but was the kind of child who would strangle kittens (or seven puppies) and there was a bit of a joke involving his name and the probability that he would fart (will he guff?).

Eventually I passed this sign and knew that I was safely at work with plenty of time to spare. Stupidly I forgot to photgraph the time again. That would have sealed the whole thing off nicely.

Well, I had great fun doing that on the way to work and I hope you all had great fun reading it too. See, pseudo rural commuting can be fun too people.

Whilst thinking of fun things, here is a funny thing that happened last weekend.

Polly, Elly, Mick and I went for a 2 hour walk from Wandleberry Park to Babraham Village to eat in the pub there. It used to be our all time favourite place to eat. It was very cheap and absolutely fantastic tasty unpretentious food. Then it burned down.

It has recently re-opened, hence the walk. When we arrived we were starving.

The place used to be really cosy and homely. Now it looks like a service station. Children appear to be running it and the food is awful. We got very depressed and had to take a taxi back to Wandleberry as it was heaving with rain too.

To cheer ourselves up we went to Saffron Walden for a mosey around. We parked in the big car park and walked into town. I put Elly up on my shoulders and recited our current favourite rhyme which goes "Me Daddy tickle me feet, he call it finger treat, me scream and run each time he come me Daddy tickle me..."

Elly is supposed to shout "FEET!"

Instead, she shouted "PENIS!"

I thought this was rather funny so tried again, hoping she would say "PENIS!" again and thinking that I could then move on. This time she shouted "PENIS!" once more, then began a rising chant of "penis, penis, penis, penis, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS, PENIS"

I was in hysterics, uncontrollable, tears running down my face hysterics. The approaching hordes of car drivers returning to their vehicles and Polly's displeasured urgings to "Disract her David, DISTRACT HER," just caused me to crack up even harder. Then, amongst the crowds surging back to their cars, faces wrinkled in disgust at our antisocial child, I spotted two children from our school, one of whom I teach for Literacy.

"Hello Felix,"


"Hello Jemima,"


"Hello Mr Trent,"


If you go to Saffron Walden, don't miss going to cafe cou cou. It is the most brilliant place ever. Worth breaking the rules for.


Anonymous said...

well that was just about the most enjoyable account of a commuters morning ever.

and your tale about elly and her new favourite word actually made me cry with laughter. would have loved to have been there. I think i'm going to read that again cos it really cheered me up!

Anonymous said...

Mum screamed . I must admit I laughed too,G-d help you sonny Jim. Consider carrying her round on your shoulders as a yes but nobut, makeup caked, foul mouthed,teenage hormone monster. Lucky you.

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