The Husband had arranged a play date with his pals, and by play date Gail means a gaggle of middle aged men dressed head to toe in lycra peddling around the countryside looking for their youth on expensive bikes. The Husband set out early and had arranged for his bike to be brought back in someone’s van and that Gail and the children would drive to the pre-arranged destination and collect the weary man and return him home (to be fair Gail should add there was a charitable connection to this long ride). So, early doors they waved him off, no they didn’t they shouted down the stairs “see you then” and carried on as normal.
Mid afternoon Gail and the children got in the car, after the usual ten minutes of fighting about who was going in the front, which is frankly a piss take in itself, these are people that regularly forget PE kits, cooking ingredients, their manners and here they were documenting in detail the last time each was in the front, down to where, when and even what they were wearing. Gail relegated them both to the back seat and mentally called them a couple of tossers.
The sun was shining which put Gail in good spirits, and in Gail’s car, good spirits means one thing, a sing-along. Gail tuned the radio into Smooth FM and they were off. Whitney, Michael Bolton and Lionel Richie accompanied by Gail at impressive decibels. At some point the petrol light came on but who looks at the petrol light when they are mid ‘I will always love you’?
By the time Gail realised the petrol situation was not great they were close to the arse end of no where with no houses in sight and no signal on their phones. Gail’s tummy did a funny flip, the kind of flip that signals don’t fart for the love of God.
The atmosphere in the car changed from a nostalgic trip down memory lane to a gut wrenching trip down I-think-I’m-going-to-be-sick-if-I-don’t-shit-myself Avenue.
Then, before them, the unmistakable signs of a petrol station. Much whooping and maniacal laughing only to be dashed as they saw it was closed. Apparently countryside folks don’t buy petrol after 5pm. Gail nearly cried. Thankfully the phones were working again and The Teenager announced there was a 24hr petrol station 8km away. The clock showed 15km of petrol.
“We’re going to have to go for it,” said Gail. They looked each other in the eye in grim silence.
“You can do it mum.”
“Do it,” added The Teenager.
So with hazards on, crawling along and free wheeling whenever possible the Grisham wagon set off in silence. The Teenager watches Top Gear and said that somehow the radio uses petrol (I smell bullshit) but Gail was in no mood to be without the reassurance of Janet & Luther, so she just turned them down a bit.
They made it. They only made it with 1km left but make it they did. Gail was shaking, dry mouthed and unable to even express her relief through the medium of swearing.
“Mum. Listen,” shouted The Youngest.
“We’ve come a long way, but we’re not too sure where we’ve been…” sang Gary Barlow and in a moment of perfect unity Gail, The Teenager and The Youngest sang at full blast “Never forget where you’ve come from, never pretend that it’s all real…”
As Gary wound the song up requests for Maltesers and drinks came thick and fast from the back seat and Gail who usually ignores such requests because she can’t be bothered to say no skipped into the shop to pay for the magical liquid (petrol) and gathered an armful of treats for her team mates, her comrades, her musketeers because when the shit nearly hit the fan, those two were there for her, they had her back and most of all, they knew every fecking word of Gary’s song.