It’s 1.30am and we’ve just arrived home. It was the read through of my play and because my car was in the garage (driver’s side window had stuck in down position) my husband had to take me. Rather funny driving my car down the A68, window more than fully down as if it was a scorching day, and the rain pelting in and my head feeling an Arctic gale. So I put the hood of my raincoat up. Shades of how driving used to be in days without heaters.
The read through went well. The cast members were enthusiastic and friendly and Kath, the director was pleased with my new ending. I felt quite a thrill as the voice of the actor playing the woman character changed to utter the last words, and I thought, ‘Yes!’. Odd Productions are putting on my play, See them rats, in a double bill with Oliver Eade’s The Gap in venues across the Borders in late November /early December. Tonight was the start of the journey that will lead to the performances.
A red battery light had come on in my husband’s old Volvo on the way over. Looks like the battery, he muttered. We wondered if it would start again when we were leaving the read through, but it did. Maybe just the damp, husband thought. He reckoned it was shorter to go up the Edinburgh road and cut across to Dalkeith and down the A68, so off we went, only he kept taking roads that led off cross country until I hadn’t a clue where we were and was sure we were going in circles. A few more red lights came on and the dashboard screen went haywire, then sorted itself. A junction that looked important. The car died. Husband asked for my mobile to phone the breakdown service as he didn’t have his. Where are you, breakdownman asked? Be with you within the hour, he said.
An enormous breakdown vehicle arrived like a spaceship from Mars, all twirling and flashing lights. Sounds like the alternator, he said. I was escorted to the cabin of the van which was bigger than most folks’ sitting rooms and sat working out how the seatbelt worked while the vehicle shuddered and juddered as the dead Volvo was winched aboard.
Off to the Borders with the sat nav being very friendly and chatty. We were being taken to the garage we use. The guy said we could give him directions when we reached the city centre. Took me a while to realise the city he referred to was St Boswells. For those who don’t know the Borders, St Boswells comes into the large village perhaps bordering on very small town category. To call it a city is to stretch the imagination elastic to breaking point and beyond.
Anyway the garage we use is in Newtown…though it’s not exactly in Newtown…a little outside….up a rutted farm track which at present is like the bog from hell. Not exactly a garage either…just a one man business with the owner being a really good mechanic. The breakdown guy was game, no doubts about that. He manoeuvered the spaceship round the bend, under the railway bridge, sharp corner that, and before he’d properly straightened was faced with the challenge of a tight turn into a farm track through stout gateposts. It took a little fancy footwork backwards and forwards before he inched the monster round. I have trouble getting through. How he coaxed that between the gateposts, up the track with its angular corners and craters I’m not sure. Then another challenge to turn on firmer ground to disgorge its cargo. I was instructed to remain in the cab. Mens’ work obviously! More judders and shudders. Did I hear the engine. Wonder how they’re moving it? They pushed I was informed later. No mean feat in a foot of mud.
Sometime during all this palaver I had phoned my son who by sheer good luck happened to be staying with us for a couple of days, had to shout to tell him to pick up as he normally doesn’t answer the landline, and wasn’t answering his mobile either. Said we needed a lift home and he had drawn the short straw. Just as well he was there, or we’d have been sleeping in the car. Anyway, home, feeling a bit tired. No wonder, couldn’t believe it when I saw the time. The shorter distance home had taken us four hours.