My trip to work
Alan (opening the back door and putting briefcase on backseat):
D (barely audible mumble as I get into the passenger seat):
Sometimes, that’s all that’s said until I thank him an hour and 15 minutes later when we arrive in Northampton. Sometimes, there'll be about 5 minute’s worth of conversation initiated by me about the weather.
But, it’s not as if there’s total silence in the car. Radio 4 is on.
Half an hour into the journey, I’ll find that my left eye starts to close. That lasts for a while before the right one does the same. Minutes later, I’ll be in a surreal trance where I’m asleep but fully aware of John Humphrys. If D brakes suddenly, an eye, usually the left one, will open. Breaking really sharply will get both eyes open for a while. At moments like those, I feel like we’re encased in a cocoon that’s edging its way through massed ranks of vehicles. It's the M1 - those ARE massed ranks of vehicles on every side! Sometimes one or both eyes will slowly open without any prompting from the brakes.
That’s when I seem to be hallucinating.
Spaces become shapes; shapes become spaces. The front moves sideways; the left side gets shallower, sometimes deeper. I've felt the hot breath of a truck's exhaust on my cheek and driven up ramps into pantechnicons and trucks in front. I've even seen the faces peering out at me from the caravans to my left and right in front of us. The lines in the road rise up into fences. Too close, really, for comfort, yet strangely comforting.
In the early days of getting my daily lift, I sat there like a motionless mannequin. Apart from the eyes, of course. More like an aged doll, perhaps. But now I lean, listing to the side, or backwards, mostly to the front. I don’t know if I snore (I hope not), but I definitely don’t dribble. Every now and again, my listing exceeds a tipping point (it never seems to be the same) and my neck snaps. Backwards or forwards, never in both directions straight after each other.
That can hurt. It wakes me up for a while.
As I said, not a word gets said until I mumble my thanks when we arrive at the office. Well, not usually. Today, right in the middle of an eye-roll, D commented on the news. I may be in a trance but my mind remains tuned into the radio. I replied, perfectly aware of what he was talking about. At least, I tried to. My lips seemed paralysed until, after a brief pause, they emitted a little explosion. I think it was intelligible but I can't be sure. D didn’t comment.
I was properly awake for quite a while after that.
Travelling back in the evening follows the same pattern with a few differences. We talk for longer but I fall into my trance quicker. Instead of John Humphrys, I have Eddie Mair to tune into.
The listing and leaning are the same.
Yes, I'm not really a morning person as you may have gathered if you read this post. Or this one.