Thanks Kat, Undercover, you're lovely...
flippin eck....it's so depressing being back at work? Yesterday was my first day back and I spent almost all of it just catching up, but today I've slipped back into routine and already I can feel the monkey beginning to climb my back. The gimp had a day off yesterday too, but he was back this morning, posturing, talking nonsense and generally being his idiot self, he grinned at me earlier and it sent shivers down my spine. Of course it would help if I had any iota of work ethic, but I know exactly why I'm here, so I can afford to enjoy myself when I'm not.
I picked up the lost boys from the kennels last night, and we had our usual re-union dance (which consists of them jumping in the air with slobbery kisses whilst peeing up my leg - but it's excited wee wee and I don't mind if they are that pleased to see me). There was a huge parting with money then leisurely stroll round a park to recover, and a swim in the duck pond(for them) followed by hot soapy showers all round....because they absolutely honk after three weeks, dinner and then general collapsing.
Would it bore the socks off you if I moved on to North Dakota? It did me....
Slowly but surely the trees began to thin. I'd begun to get tunnel vision by now, driving down the narrow ribbon of road that disappeared into the vanishing point on the wooded horizon. The landscape changed progressively into sunny glades between the trees, to open gently rolling countryside with occasional wooded knolls, to flat, farmed sun bleached cereal crops as far as the eye could see.
Eventually I needed to pull over (to answer the call of nature) and took a few discreet steps into the corn (I think that's what it was, although I didn't meet any children in there). I did what men do when they are having a pee on there own in the countryside, I did a full 360, and then tried to see how high it would go, which meant looking up, and I swear I was stunned. It's not as if I've never seen the sky before, obviously, but I never realised there was so much of it. All of the skies I have ever seen have been limited, by some feature, buildings or even distant hills, but this sky stretched from the sun overhead to every single point of the horizon. It was quite stunning and made me feel strangely maudlin, and bizarrely a little afraid, of being out there on my own.
Pretty soon I longed for a tree. This would be a place that the Daleks would enjoy enormously, I can imagine them careering around in corn fields (fields is too small a word - counties is probably nearer the mark), spelling their names, making alien patterns or writing "zingwat loves pirraxable" without any fear of coming unstuck on even a slight rise, let alone a large rock or even a ditch. There were signs of life, grain hoppers, and what appeared to be dwellings set far, far back from the road, but more often than not the only obvious tell-tale sign of human existence was a mail box at the end of a dusty drive leading back into a million acres of maize. And towns, about every 200 miles.
This was encouraging as some of them had shops, and bars and even motels - and worrying at the same time, because non of them seemed to have any inhabitants, unless....unless those goats in the that field were were-goats who sat and ate complicated salads watching cable tv when there was a full moon over the prairie.
I drove for a gazillion miles through sweet fanny adams. There was a point where I thought I should take a photo so that I could show people at home the extent of this extravagance of grain, rather than try to explain it. So I stopped the car again, in a place that seemed to be completely unbroken by any feature that disrupted the absolute symmetry of the view. It's only when you get out of the car that you realise it is oven hot outside, and quite high too, so the sun scorches bare skin immediately, It was strange but my skin didn't show any inclination to sweat, and I am a sweater given a chance, so it must be dry, as dry and arid as it looked. I walked a little way down a gravel drive with the camera, but as I looked around through the view finder it was obvious that it wouldn't work as a photo. It's not as if I'm a photographer, quite the opposite, I rarely take photo's mostly because I'm alone and views are so bloody boring, but this time I thought I ought to bring the camera. There was just nothing that would provide any perspective, all around there was just blue and yellow, blue and yellow, sun and corn. I wished I'd stopped earlier near the dusty old windmill.
Can I say too that there is only so much country and western music that a man can take. It truly is music to cut your throat by, but there's bugger all else to listen to. There's a song, I should remember what it's called because I heard it ten times a day, but some internal self defence mechanism has saved me from using those synapses - about some poor bloody woman dying of an incurable disease. Her husband is singing it, lamenting the distance to the hospital and praying that the latest treatments and drugs available to medical science will save her - no doubt so that she can come home and look after their 32 children and do the washing up because they've used all of the crockery in the house.......I can hear a sub plot in my head, her side of the story, "oh piss off and leave me alone, I'd rather pop my clogs than spend another day in the wilderness with you and your devil spawn, my darling, shit boring husband"
Eventually, in the dark, (what a sunset by the way), I found a Motel.....I'd had the good sense to buy some snacks to go with my beer this time. And I found the local bar and got a real good beer buzz going, and found company too for the first time in three days. He was made entirely out of leather, sitting on a bar stool and alternately drinking and spitting on the floor. I ordered a beer and sat down leaving a free stool between us, and after a decent pause he looked at me from under his hat with the eye of an ancient lizard and growled......"yer not from these parts are you buddy?", which although I didn't realise it at the time would be my conversational opener for the next 3 weeks.