So we head off in ex's car to take the boy and his mate to the Big Chill festival. I stayed for the weekend last year and had a great time, but I have decided to give festivals and camping a miss for the rest of my life. Anyway, back to this year. So we head off just shortly after the ex has told me twice that the car will need petrol.
Get through London with no problems. M4 is quite quiet and off to the Welsh border we head. Quick stop at service station to stretch our legs. Another stop at Good Pub Guide pub of the year 2009. Get on the M5 and not far off the junction we need to get off to get the road to Ledbury (where the Big Chill is being held). Well, what is going on with the car. It's dragging. What the fuck? It's conking out. In middle lane so carefully have to negotiate back into slow lane and come to a halt in the hard shoulder. It's ran out of fucking petrol. What a fucking idiot I am! And thank fuck we made it onto the hard shoulder cos motorways are pretty scary places to be when you are either stopped or going slow. We think this as lorry after lorry goes past us shuddering the car which we then decide to get out of. First move is to phone ex to find out if she is in the AA, but don't get an answer as she is probably in meeting at work. Nothing else for it but to walk little way and use phone on motorway. They ask if we are covered and I say no. JJ points to Green Flag sticker on car but I dismiss this as I say that sticker has been on there since we got the car many years ago. Anyway, mechanic on phone takes £95 payment and says he'll get to us in about 30 minutes. Two truck turns up and takes us to the petrol station. On way - and about 200 yards from where we were stuck - roadworks are on and sign says free breakdown recovery in place. Petrol station less than mile from where we were stopped and, while JJ flirts with mechanic - I fill up the car. Mechanic fucks off and I pay for petrol. Back out to car and ... it doesn't start. Fuck, fuck fuck!!! Just no way is it starting. Don't know what to do. Ask some people around for advice but they cannot offer anything. Now I'm standing around looking totally lost and confused and thinking I'll have to get mechanic back out, which doesn't seem to upset JJ too much. Just then, however, blokes with lots of tattoos asks if I want a jump start. Brings jump leads out and, in less than two minutes, the car is off and running. And off to the Big Chill it is.
As I said, the plan was to drop boys off at the campsite and then JJ and I were heading off to Ludlow for night in hotel.
Get to Ledbury and all is well and we locate the gate we are to go into. Only problem is that thousands of others are going in at the same time and we crawl and stop and crawl and stop. Eventually get in the gate and make our way so slowly along dirt track to the car park. But I suddenly get scary thought - how the fuck are we going to get back out of this single track dirt road? All four of us at about the same time then decide to about turn. Do that with difficulty and force cars into the hedge so that we can get out. Get to the gate and ... no way out as cars coming in both lanes from the direction we want to go in! But, luckily, just few minutes later we see and opening and out we go. Can think of nothing else to do with the boys but to dump them at side of the road with all their gear and the beer supplies for them and all their mates. Just as we are about to say our goodbyes, the ex sends me a text to say that the car is covered by Green Flag breakdown service. Reidski is 100 quid out of pocket for nothing. But, hey, it was an adventure. And JJ and I then have lovely evening in Ludlow.
And then the nightmare really began - going into dining room for breakfast the next morning I noticed only one big table round which everyone is sitting, with two empty seats for JJ and I. Some forced small talk ensues with the idiots we are forced to spend breakfast with. This, folks, was worse than the previous day.
* John Cooper Clarke