• Nathalie Curtis

Just another Manic Monday. Part 2.

How the M27 is responsible for a few more grey hairs, and how I have been almost glad to smell fox poo.

Now, try to imagine that this is the M27, and not clearly New York peeps, yes? Thank you!

It’s that feeling as if you’ve missed the last step, and the world is ending. All cabin pressure is lost and the vacuum has been pierced. A shrill, high pitched screech sears through your consciousness and blocks all rational thought, and the dull mechanics of the physical necessities kick in. You turn off your music, you brake, put your hazard lights on. You try not to let the panic take an ever stronger grasp on your heart as you register the lanes of stationary traffic. There’s smoke in the distance, winding its weary way through the early Monday morning fog, like a ghost slowly seeping it’s way back to Heaven. There has been a major accident - once again - on the M27.

I try to steady my breath as my mind races forward, 100 frames a second, playing in fast forward all that could have happened in about 0.5 seconds. It is as if a flash bulb has fired straight into my eyeballs, I am momentarily blind. You see, Andy and Freddie had left home moments before me. I imagine our car, wedged into the central reservation, the front end crumpled and all air bags deployed. I think of a little bed, never again slept in. Toys gathering dust, but never thrown away. A home that will never again ring with laughter, and (every cloud) a television that never blasts Sky Sports and thousands of baying men into my home ever again. It is a harrowing moment, and I need to see, with every last sinew and molecule of myself, the cars that have been involved in this accident. It’s a terrible thing to wish misfortune on someone else, but I suppose in this exact same scenario this is exactly what I was doing. But nothing and no-one is moving, so in this state of suspended animation, I exist until I can see that that car isn’t my husbands, and try to keep some sort of control over my freefalling emotions.

I look at my phone. Nothing. I don’t know why I took reassurance in this. If anything did happen it would be a while before anyone phoned me. The seconds stretch before me, as I slowly inch my car off the slip road and into the crawling fat slug of four lanes of traffic. We all inch forward, slowly, so slowly. No emergency vehicles yet, the accident has clearly just happened. I look around at the cars and drivers adjacent to me. No-one looks particularly bothered. One lady nonchalantly applies a slick of lipgloss, another sparks up a cigarette. Clearly no-one that they love more than life itself travels this route. Instead everyone else is either just secretly peeved or relieved that they will work a shorter day, or may’ve missed a hair appointment.

My panic is just about to simmer over the edge, when eventually, thankfully, I see the first car. On the other side of the road, upside down and smoking. It’s front bonnet is crumpled and I realise, with such earnest gratefulness, that it is not Andy’s car. But we are not out of the woods yet, there are three other cars involved. Slowly, grimly, feeling a bit more calm by degrees now, I register and reiterate the make and model of each car, saying them out loud. Thankfully, dear God, I don’t recognise any of them as my thoughts also turn to colleagues that may be on the same journey.

45 minutes later, I eventually arrive at work. I would normally be angry at the loss of my time (as we have to make it all good with my employer) but not today. There’s been far too much at stake today to get wound up at such trivialities. I text Andy, who wasn’t even aware of the accident. I tell him that I love him and Freddie, so much, and then I try to get on with my work. But the rest of the day passes in a bit of a muggy fog, I can’t shift the mental images and I worry about what’s happened to the drivers of the other cars. No one set out that morning to have their world literally and metaphorically turned upside down. There’s no preparing for this, practically and mentally. Who knows whether, as I’m having my morning latte, some poor wife is having the police turn up at her door, asking to come in as they’ve got some terrible news. It’s almost too much for me to bear, and whilst I try my best to relax I just can’t until I get home, step over the threshold, and hug, with all my might, Andy, Freddie, Bailey and the cats.

Because it doesn’t really matter how annoying it is that I’ve had to bathe the dog 3 times in the last 5 days because he keeps rolling in fox shit. Or ‘sleep’ on Freddie’s freezing cold floor in the middle of the night. Or even had to pause that one episode of Tin Star 5 times (they are only 45 minutes long!) because anyone of these thousands of animals absolutely must have our attention AT ALL TIMES. At least we’re all here, sharing the same universe, living in the same world, and looking up at the same stars at night. I’ve always found it very reassuring that everyone that has ever existed has looked up at the same stars, (although I’m no Stephen Hawking so don’t quote me on that. And I do understand the hemispheres before anyone points that out). No, on days like this it is nice to be humbled and accept that a shit wifi signal should not give you a stress headache, or an unyielding itunes send you screeching to the cornershop for some i-wine. None of this crap really matters, and isn’t worth even raising an eyebrow over. I guess we all just need to just enjoy the moment. Don’t sweat the small stuff . Recognise and accept that it’s pretty much all small stuff, and just enjoy being in the company of those who make your heart happy. We are all a lot luckier than we realise we are, and we should never stop being grateful. And yes, have that extra bar of chocolate or glass of wine. Fuck it, have both. Be happy.

And the world is right again.

PS. I checked about the accident and there were no major injuries. Now if people could just stop driving about as if their pants are on fire the world would be a better place. Stay safe, everyone.


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