Sunday, 11 March 2007

Airport run

I'm feeling gloomy. We're all doomed. Global warming is kicking in because although it's an early March morning it feels like summer in the car. We're locked in there, picking Dig up from the airport, and on the long, hard drive, we sit in the traffic queues on the motorway, crawling slowly past the car in flames on the hard shoulder.

I don't know why Dig can't do the videoconference thing that everyone else seems to be doing. For some reason he has to jet around, visiting places all over the world, lecturing everyone on commas. This is probably unforgivable, given the state of the planet. It probably would be forgivable, if we were with him. But we can't go. It's too expensive, or too posh, or both. Which makes us very ecologically sound, I think, as I sit in my car, unable to wind down the windows for some fresh air, thanks to the petrol fumes pouring out from other people's cars.

It takes nearly two hours, inching our way through traffic jams, to reach Airport Town. I half wish we hadn't offered to pick him up. But there's relief ahead: we're still here early and there's a castle near to the airport, so we can all go castling until Dig's flight lands.

In our family, Iron Age hill forts, Roman forts and castles are brilliant. We love them all: ditched, ruined, standing, motte and bailey, moated, with priory attached, with turrets, great halls, walls or murder holes, we don't care, let us run around pretending to be Celts or Romans, or medieval ladies or knights on horseback or nasty Richard III or, even better, Edward Longshanks, defeating the Welsh and having his melted bones carried to Scotland. Brilliant. No planes, no cars, no pollution, no global warming.

When we have to leave the castle there are tears all round. We drive back into the twenty-first century, where I have to pay a pound to park the car to pick up Dig.

Dig's in tetchy mood, probably fed up with having to wait an extra hour while we put down our bows and arrows and come back down from the castle walls. As we creep back home in second gear, watched all the while by the cameras overhead, I think about our day. Apart from the global warming, I just don't feel very comfortable in twenty-first century Britain. I think that I'd probably make a good dweller of the twelfth century. I'd be a weaving woman, and Dig would be a brewer, and with our six children in one room with a pig and a bedridden granddad we'd all yearn to live in the stinky hut by the tannery, because we'd want to go up in the world.

And then I think some more as I face the exhaust pipe of the car in front. I consider that all we'd have to face eight hundred years ago, apart from the continuous warfare of the nobles and barons and kings, would be a miserable life of hardship, toil, disease, death, and a life span of 30-odd years in our hut next to the castle cess pit.

I don't know. It's just one of those Eeyore days now. No matter which way I look at things the ending's always miserable. And global warming's only the beginning.

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