B said it had been easy driving, and we were getting on fine, making good time and listening to music. We entered a service station when we got half-way to the Brecon Beacons because the dog was making a fuss. The service station was busy , and we drove around once looking for a space. B followed the signs, but it took us to the exit back onto the motorway. She had no option but to drive the wrong way against the flow of the arrows, but it was no big deal, because there was a space in sight ten metres away.
As we pulled into the space at five miles per hour, the people from the car the next space down wander into where we are trying to park. They stand inside the markings looking at us like those cows that stand in fields by the side of the road look at cars, uncomprehending what it is we are doing. They are slow to move. Surely, they seem to be saying, they can’t have travelled ten metres the wrong way against the flow of the arrows, and now be trying to park their car in this car parking space where we are standing, and expect us to move 1 metre to stand next to our actual car? Surely they can’t be expecting to occupy this space next to our car, our Porsche, in our service station, in our world, can they?
Well, we had no choice, it was that space or hold up the traffic. We had no choice but to carefully pull into that space. We duly noted that couple stared into our car, and shook their heads, and I especially also noted how the male, stared at B. B muttered something I didn’t quite catch. I felt my adrenaline sky rocket. Not felt it, per se, experienced that event without feeling it, not too aware of anything, aware of snapping a response to B, eyes on the man still staring into the car, a hyper-awareness of the man’s arrogant stance as he continues to fix his eyes on B, as B is getting out of the car, I hear her quite plainly ask in a low voice, why are you staring at me, there is an edge of uncertainty in it that rattles me further. I am no longer quite there, the words feel detached from everything suddenly. There is a sharpening of vision, and a slowing of time.
The man doesn’t respond, but continues to stare, he stands behind his Porsche, and wordlessly stares, he looks immensely stupid there, he looks like everything that is wrong with the world, and everything that is wrong with my life and everything that is wrong with me, and everything that is wrong. My hand reaches for the door handle, the door opens, with me behind it.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?
My open car door is about ten inches from his car. Ten inches from paintwork that probably costs more than my salary. Ten inches of air that is free to breath. His car is between us.
He says- Watch the car. He says this as though something should be implicit in those words, or as though I should recognise something. Or recognise him. It seems that way afterwards at least. B thought so too.
Fuck off- What the fuck are you looking at? You fucking prick.-
Well-she did drive round the car park the wrong way.
What the fuck is it to do with you? Fuck you you arrogant prick.
I have lost it. I am so angry I can barely speak. There is blood in that anger. It feels deep as though it is coming up from somewhere dreadful, it feels like it might not stop, like it has been there all along, like a valve being opened, sad and violent like everything was dead and floating down all the shitty gutters down into the stinking sewers that lie beneath everything we build just taking our shit over and over, until they fill up and overflow.
Then, of course, the dog joined in the mayhem, seeing other dogs in the doggy distance, and anyway, there are only so many times you can say fuck you before the effect is lost. So B managed to talk me away from the scene. We spoke some words. About me seeking help mostly. I needed the loo. I promised I wouldn’t do anything else. I saw him coming back to his car after using the loo too. He looked a little alone, and a little afraid, loping along, with his stupid slack mouth, and his long loose gait, and his arms flapping by his sides. He really looked a lot like the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He looked like Phillip Hammond. But it can’t have been the Chancellor of the Exchequer…Can it?
Anyway, in a month where I had decided to try not to do anything at all that was crazy I did something crazy. So, back to the drawing board.