The Holiday – Part 9
Thirteen miles. 13 miles. Thir-teen miles. 1 – 3 – miles. I tasted the numbers with my tongue, ennunciated the syllables saying them over and over. I thought of the normal meaning of the ordinary words. I pictured the 13 mile long journeys I had made up til then. I despaired.
Jamie and Ana despaired.
The car fell silent. Punctuated by an occasional oh for fuck sake Mum, where are we go-ing? from Meg. Answered by my despairing don’t swear and (more quietly) I don’t know…
At one point the satnav indicated that 13 miles had become 18 miles. And Meg and I decided we’d been abducted by time-travelling aliens with a poor sense of direction.
Somewhere – maybe as we crossed the ford, or climbed the hill side, or even, perhaps, as we turned off the main artery and onto that branch – just somewhere, the ordinary meaning of the distance; the everyday experience of a few miles had become as remote and as unimaginable as the moon and the stars. We had entered a parallel universe of sheep and moor side. A place where miles just grew and grew. Where journeys never ended. Where cars trundled along at 20 mph.
There was an eternity of road. Dotted with roadkill rabbit in various states of decay. Punctuated by sheep who seemed utterly oblivious to the car and to us. Infinity was called tarmac.
Those ’13’ miles took as long as the journey from Carlisle to Scotch Corner. They ended in the steepest dropping road I had ever driven. A road which terminated in a 270 degree bend…the bend which took us onto a track…the track which took us through 4 farms; a ford; down a gully and up the gullyside and finally to a dead-end halt between derelict farm buildings.
The satnav… yes, the satnav… had taken us
The Wrong Way.