It was 5 pm or so when I set out, driving down the old year. A few cars were still heading home. Drivers were fast, longing to get home, changed and into a party. Twenty miles on, and the small stream had slowed to a drip. My sat nav suggested a new route, and disliking hair pin bends on a road what is only allegedly an A I agreed, heading out over an unknown road with slowed and restricted me. It seemed an age before Carlisle and the motorway.
The trickle had slowed to a drip. My sat nav was predicting a ten pm arrival by now, unable to understand the effect of a dark narrow A road on a never over confident motorist driving an old car. I was one small dark car, barely light in a dark world.
So we drove down the sped trapped motorway at a steady 70, and over the almost deserted A66 – which was as deserted as though it was 2am and not 8 pm. I forced myself to stop for a coffee from my flask, but the intensity of Hogmany was beginning to drive me. I’m not a pure bred Scot, and I probably don’t really understand Hogmany, but it fills me with hopes and sorrows religious in intensity. I wanted warmth, light, family. Scotch Corner was a surreal experience. On that huge, traffic light controlled roundabout there were my car and one other. It was not yet 9pm and I felt like an extra on ‘Survivors’.
And so the last stretch, the A1 almost empty. A few cars hurrying north, and then a six lane motorway empty – no other cars in sight. And then the turn off, and small roads, and my daughter’s home, and hot tea, hot chilli and champaign, and a new year, calm and smooth and untrodden and full of hope. Any miracle might happen.