Since leaving the army in 1996, most of the work I’ve done has meant me spending quite a lot of time schlepping up and down the motorways, on my own, in a car.
I get bored after a bit.
The radio can only take me so far. If it’s on, something will eventually get played that I don’t like or I might inadvertently hear a microsecond of Chris Moyles and have to change channel. My radio’s search function will then transport me to the nearest local station which will be doing a forty five minute programme about someone spotting an albino crow. After hearing a couple of eye-witness interviews, I’ll have to switch it off.
That leaves me in a dangerous place. Alone with my own thoughts.
I usually spend a while blowing imaginary lottery winnings, but the vast majority of the time is filled with noticing stuff that has no real importance or interest. Things like:
• Norbert Dentressangle is a really, really good name.
• More than 50% of caravans are getting towed by drivers with facial hair.
• As you travel south out of Glasgow on the M8, the ‘8’ at the half mile marker of Junction 8 has been stuck on upside down.
• Coventry’s inner ring road is the nearest most of us will come to the experience of riding a fairground Wall of Death.
• There’s a big brown heritage sign at the roundabout at the start of the A14 that says “Secret Bunker.”
See, neither use nor ornament. I imagine that everyone who clocks up a lot of mileage discovers pointless shite like this, but it passes the time.
There is one thing that I notice on motorways that continues to confuse and worry me, though.
A lot of articulated lorries seem to have custom spray jobs on their cabs. That’s unremarkable, I know, but an unsettlingly large percentage of this cab art implies some connection between HGV drivers and Native American culture. I would love to know what the link is. Every time I drive past an image of Geronimo looking wistfully back down the M6, immortalised in Halford’s finest, I have a look to see who’s driving. It’s never one of his descendants, sat there in full battledress, hoping he’s going to get to the B and Q in Carlisle in time for the battle. It’s always the standard behemoth in a hi-viz jacket, eating a Ginsters and picking his nose.
“And lo, it came to pass, that my squaw did say that I was cluttering up the tepee and must travel north to find gainful employment with the tribe headed by Chief Eddie Stobart and his son, Loves a Full English. My heart cried for the old ways, but times had moved on for us and I was forced to change my name from Soars Like an Eagle to Delivers Predominantly to Homebase.”
If I ever see one of these trucks at the services, I’ll ask the question of the driver. I fully expect the response to be a snack of no nutritional value being dropped to the floor, followed by a thousand yard stare and a tearful account of the years of pain, accompanied by ghostly drumming and the whirr of a fiddled tachograph.