Well, as you are sharing this moment of stolen naughtiness, I’d better tell you where we are. We are sitting in the car in some bleak, wind-swept car park, hunched over the passenger seat scribbling out a blog post that fuelled by none other than Stolen Time.
Precious, diamond, beautiful, Stolen Time.
You see, it appears that the only time I can get my hands on these days is stolen.
No! Stop right there. Don’t you roll your eyes at me. It is quite true. I have spent all day today delivering workshops, talking to new clients and driving from A to B then to Z, grinding my teeth and wondering why life has begun to resemble a very crammed filing cabinet. Does your life ever resemble a filing cabinet? (Off the record, my car is starting to look like a skip. I also have Red Bull tins in the glove compartment. Not a good sign. I swear I never drink Red Bull normally.)
Anyway, today, in all the running and twitching and scrambling, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be back in time to collect the children from school, so I rang the wonderful Mother-Me-Acre who stepped in like Wonder Woman and agreed to get them. Sigh of relief all round.
Then something quite unexpected occurred.
I finished work early. Driving back to meet Me-Acre, I realised that somehow I must have performed a Jedi mind trick on Grandfather Time Himself and I actually had half an hour before the arranged collection time.
( You know your life has become too hectic when the idea of having half an hour makes you want to run to the nearest church, get down on both knees, light a candle in way of thanks for this small mercy then burst into racking sobs of tears.)
Well. I didn’t do that. Instead I snuk here to this sneaky car park and decided to say hello to all you gorgeous lovelies. And to say sorry. It’s been so long. I feel like I’ve neglected you dreadfully. If it makes any difference, I haven’t been around to see my grandparents in four months either.
I am ashamed to admit that they only live up the road. Hmm. You may also notice that there are a lack of piccies with this post, which is another symptom of the no time to think thing.
Part of me blames October for all of this.
How is anyone supposed to retain control over their life when one minute there’s this whole pseudo-summer thing and it’s all blue skies, people swishing around in light cotton clothes and trees adorned in crimson berried gorgeousness. And then the next minute … WHAM. It’s dark. And you are lighting
fires. And have carved pumpkins on the doorstep. And November is upon us.
(The dark month. Brrrr). No wonder we’re baffled.
I’m not really prone to November. The nights are too long. Days too short. Just going to meet someone at Sainsburys car park at 5.30pm feels like you’re hanging around Brixton at midnight. There’s a menacing, chavvy nip to the air. Do you know what I mean by that? November is shifty.
If you don’t know what I mean, don’t worry too much. I probably wouldn’t know what I mean’t, except I actually did have to meet someone at Sainsburys a few afternoons ago. Despite the fact that neither Hollyoaks nor the Simpsons had been aired on telly and it was probably still halfway through something comforting such as Blue Peter, 5.30pm in November feels strangely night-time-ish.
And if hanging around in Brixton at midnight isn’t disconcerting enough, imagine that your colleague doesn’t turn up! Well. There is only so long you can pace up and down outside Sainsburys main entrance like an indecisive Darlek before you have to do the ultimate predictable thing… get the
“Yes, hello. But WHERE ARE YOU?”
Muffled voice. “I am so sorry. I haven’t left the house yet. Am looking for the forms. Why don’t you
meet me at the traffic lights and I will pick you up en-route?”
Meet colleague at traffic lights? At TRAFFIC LIGHTS? There is one thing hanging around outside Sainsburys at chav-to-midnight in November, but at least you are surrounded by savory Sainsbury types. What sort of person hangs out by the traffic lights? At THIS TIME?
Gathering my courage and stomping through the car park and down the road, I did something that I would rarely admit too. I made one of those pointless phone calls to someone random in the attempt to make myself feel less alone. I then wittered on about my dreadful situation of having
to hang around in dodgy areas of town at dreadful times of night … erm … late afternoon.
As I wittered my way across the bridge to the river one of those horrible moments occurred where you think someone is following you and it makes you all skittish like a horse who has had a traumatic foalhood. I jumped and jerked around to look who was behind me. No one. Then I had this flash of
fear that the stalker had moved to one side, was double bluffing me and was going to tap me on the other shoulder. Was compelled to spin around Jackie Chan style, one way and then the other.
No one. Not even a leaf. Heart pounding.
Hurried off bridge and tried to ignore the small child sitting in a car, pulled up at traffic light, face pressed against window obviously having witnessed entire paranoid horse incident.
Off the bridge, I was strangely uninspired to go and stand on the edge of the road by four sets of traffic lights to await colleague. Instead I headed into the empty car park outside Brantano and Block Busters. Called colleague and insisted that there was no way I could stand at the traffic lights scrutinising every car that goes past in case it was her, because frankly it would make me look like a hooker. She understood. Agreed to meet me outside Brantano in empty car park instead.
Except. Gulp. As phone went down, I realised I was now standing in an empty car park in middle of the night in November, looking nervously shifty. Didn’t want to look shifty. Wanted to look purposeful. Problem is , every time I tried to look purposeful I felt like a hooker pretending NOT to hanging around a car park looking for business, so went back to looking nervously shifty.
Strolled around, thanking footwear Gods that I had’t worn clippy-cloppy heels and had instead gone for my winter boots with thick, chunky, deep treaded soles. Passed a shady looking tall bloke with shaved head. Thought “dodgy Tuesday, late afternoon, car park hangarounder. Must be a thug or drug dealer.” Then he headed into Blockbuster and I breathed deep sigh of before being hit with a total and utter inspiration sandwich. I Could Go Into Block Buster Too! Then I wouldn’t look like a prostitute or an indecisive Darlek. Hurried thankfully towards Blockburster entrance with similar elation to a time traveller who is leaving the pimp-infested Dark Ages for a warm, yellow, 21st century oasis of Hollywood only to feel something soft and slippery beneath my boot.
It was NOT a small compact chunk of squelchy autumn leaves.
It was everything I hoped it would not be.
There is something deeply comical about watching someone get dog poo off their shoes, isn’t there? The foot action could be known as the “Scrapey Foot Dog Do Jig”. Or, when someone is wearing their winter boots with thick, deep tread soles “The Dog Poo Pavement Riverdance.” It was just as I was
completing an epic Riverdance Finale that my colleagues welcome car pulled up.
Thank flipping flip for that.
You’d think after that I would want to spend any time in a car park ever again, wouldn’t you? But here I am, sitting in one, bent over the passenger seat with a pen in my hand and a crick in my back. And as I’m sitting up, having consumed all of my Stolen Time, I’m wondering if I’ll ever get more of the time stuff to dedicate to my beloved little blog. Fingers crossed I will. But right now I’m off to liberate children from Me-Acre (or the other way around) and then after that, I am officially going to see my grandparents. Because they are, of course, my beloveds too. Ciao for now!