Wind-up Friday

I hate Luton, even at the best of times. There’s an old saying: “If God wanted to give England an enema, he’d stick the tube in Luton”. Nothing is closer to the truth. I lived in one of Luton’s suburbs for the first three years of my independent adult life and spent the entire time trying to save so that I could leave as soon as possible and live elsewhere.

However, sometimes one must bite the bullet and do unpleasant things for the sake of expediency. Such was the case today. Billy Bailey needed his first annual service (largely to maintain the warranty) and, unfortunately, the caravan dealer is in Luton.

My unpleasant task was made even more unpleasant by the fact that the weather today was absolutely dreadful. Nonetheless, I bravely set forth to hitch-up Billy and drag him down into Mordor to see the caravan doctor for his check-up. My mood lightened a little as I realized that I had beaten the tarmac monsters to it and should be able to escape before the gauntlet had been set up. After straining the memory to remember how to hitch-up and tow a caravan, we were off. The journey was filled with traffic, much of which consisted of lorries and spray from the incessant rain.

(Just why our roads are so full at 9:45 AM is completely beyond me. They can’t all be sales people, for Heaven’s sake – we don’t make anything to sell. Why aren’t they in an office adding up columns of numbers or just making tea for other people adding up columns of numbers – anything to pay taxes and fill the government coffers? But I digress …)

Eventually we made it through the spraying, snarling traffic, Billy was delivered for his doctor’s appointment, and I returned home for a well earned coffee. At about 2:30 PM the doctor phoned and announced that Billy was ready to be discharged and could return home. So, off I went to brave Luton for the second time. I decided to go just a single junction on the M1 – the main route south towards London, albeit 40 miles north of said capital. Between junctions 12 and 11 the traffic becomes stationary no less than three times. It’s unbelievable – 2:30 in the afternoon and there’s so many people around not in offices that the father of all British motorways is constipated. Breathing a sigh of relief I eventually arrive to collect Billy and, after shelling out a princely £203 (you can get a car serviced for less) we’re off back to the field.

(Incidentally, part of the £203 was for a new set of wheel nuts. It seems that we are now so green that old ones have to be discarded in favour of new ones. How good is that for the environment? But I digress again …)

Now the tarmac monsters have finished resurfacing and gone and Billy is soon back in his field, albeit dirty from a journey in the filthy weather. I grabbed the book and checked the service book only to discover a lack of dealership stamp proclaiming that the relevant required service had, in fact, been carried out. Arghh!

In something of a foul mood, I drove back into that nightmare they call Luton yet again to get Billy’s service book stamped only to be told, “they don’t take any notice of stamps these days, it’s the invoice that counts”. Double arghh! Having made the unpleasant journey I insisted on a stamp nonetheless and now find myself in the midst of rush hour, having wasted the entire afternoon driving back and forth, fighting my way home for a well-earned dry martini. OK, I admit it, two well-earned dry martinis.

Driving into Luton twice, even when it is necessary, is bad enough but three times is totally unbearable.

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