We were on the road by ten, I guess. Quite early on in our journey, we hit a rather large piece of metal which had been deposited in the outside lane on the M1. It was about the size of a bumper. We didn't have time to swerve to avoid it, so made the choice to go straight over the top of it. It made a terrible crunching noise on the bottom of our car which forced us to pull over onto the hard shoulder to check for damage. Fortunately we could see none, but an ever-growing number of people were hitting the obstruction and instantly grinding to a halt. I made the decision to call the police and dialled the non-emergency police number. A pre-recorded voice informed me that there would be a five-minute wait before I'd be able to talk to anyone, so I decided to call the big boys on 999.
Calling 999 is always a bit of a weird experience. There's always a palpable sense that you're wasting someone's time, or that you're somehow tarnishing yourself by being pulled into the murky, dirty world of crime. I was astounded to find myself in a queue for this service as well. A recorded message might as well have informed me that my call was important to them and that they'd answer as soon as a member of staff became available. It took almost five minutes for someone to answer. I imagined how I'd feel if my life was in danger. If I was choking. If someone was in the process of breaking into my house. If I was a woman being followed by someone down an empty street. It's quite horrifying to think that there aren't enough staff to answer these vitally important calls.
I was sent a very charming video today of a group of young children from West Yorkshire singing my "Sing a Song of Yorkshire" composition as part of a medley of songs from that part of the world which included Scarborough Fair and, of course, Ilkley Moor Bar T'at. It's perhaps interesting, and a little sad, to note that none of these deeply patriotic songs were actually written by card-carrying Yorkshire folk. Ilkley Moor, for example, was written by a shoe-maker from Canterbury. I think, having lived in the county for three years, I probably come closest to being legitimate! Anyway, the performance was stunning, the kids were bang on in tune, and my heart broke when one of them pulled out a giant Yorkshire flag at the end and started waving it in the style of Les Miserables. I blinking love everything about Yorkshire!
It's Mothering Sunday today. I refuse to acknowledge the term "Mother's Day" as it feels somewhat American. We drove up to Nathan's Mum for a glorious lunch with his close family. I'm thrilled to report that Nathan's four-year old great niece is developing a glorious Lancashire accent. A northern accent is the best gift you can give to a child, after music and a second language! We crammed ourselves around the kitchen table to eat. I think I was sitting on an occasional table. Poor Ron was forced to sit on his own, on a stool against the side board. It felt like we were ostracising him. I was instantly reminded of the tales my Mum tells of the days when she was courting my dad. My Welsh Nana didn't approve of my Mum in the slightest, so, whilst she, my Grandad and my Dad ate their food in the dining room by the patio windows, my mother was forced to sit in the garden on a little bench eating sandwiches she'd brought from home with her! It's one of the most tragic stories I've ever heard!
Facebook was filled today with my terribly conscientious friends attempting to wish each other a happy Mothering Sunday whilst being deeply inclusive to those without children or mothers. It all got a little bit ludicrous if you ask me. It's not as though Mothering Sunday was invented to deliberately exclude people. I realise that it's a very sad day for some people, and my heart absolutely goes out to anyone reading this who has recently lost a child or a mother, but at the same time, if we're hell-bent on investing energy in celebrating these peculiarly manufactured days, I do think we ought to be able to celebrate the positive without worrying about causing offence. I enjoy celebrating my birthday without feeling the need to wish everyone else a happy unbirthday. Humpty Dumpty I am not!
Before we left Shropshire, I was introduced to a word I'd never heard before. Seersucker. It's a type of slightly-ruched fabric which was popular in the 1950s for dresses and tablecloths. Nathan's Mum showed me a table cloth made from seersucker which had once belonged to her Mam.
We went home via Thaxted. My Mum sounded very glum on the phone when I called her after lunch, so we thought a little surprise visit was called-for. It actually only added about an hour onto our journey time and it was so nice to see the parents and have a few cheese crackers for the road.