I set out today to the depths of Kent and East Sussex from the warehouse in a hire van. As I passed through the gates of our yard and traversed the road to the first junction, I became aware of a curious sound. I listened intently trying to ascertain the origin and meaning of this intrusion into my cockpit. Then it came to me: it was the engine!
Okay, I jest. I’ve heard engine noises before. But today, in that hire van, that is all I had to listen to.
Usually, a vehicle comes equipped with a fully functioning radio so the driver can choose what annoying music or presenter should accompany them on their journey. Not in this van. It has a radio, true enough, but its ability to fully receive a signal has been terminally curtailed by a lack of arial. Yes, I could listen to the radio, if white noise floated my boat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
So, I was faced with the mouthwatering prospect of a 150-mile round trip with just the engine and verbal abuse from other drivers for in-flight entertainment. For most mere mortals that would have been a bleak prospect. Monday would have been painted grey with morose forbidding. However, I’m no mere mortal. Just mortal. I could see myself as a mobile hermit cut off from the outside world until I reached my various destinations. Figures from literature sprang to mind, such as Old Ben Gunn and his cheese, or the boys on Golding’s island, or Winston Smith in 1984 (or another anti-hero divorced from the society surrounding them). Even infamous authors who have been almost cut off from society physically with only their work touching other human-beings. Emily Dickinson seems to fit this scenario. It’s a curious thing, though, the number of poets who have experienced the inside of an asylum throughout history. Sad business indeed. But my musically mute van was hardly an asylum, or even some kind of mobile hermitage. I was just deprived of euphonious distraction for the period of time it took me to travel 15o miles from Maidstone to, well, Maidstone again.
So, tomorrow’s another day. And one that’ll be spent in the warehouse… where there is no radio. Se la vie.
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Photo credit: Malek Montag, 2013