Cycle of dramas on a dull drive home


I NEVER intended to be a car-borne commuter; cycling was more my thing. Now I drive twenty miles to Howden for my shifts at the Press Association and a bit further further during term time when I teach journalism at Leeds Trinity University.

Whereas militant cyclists proudly display pious ‘One less car on the road’ stickers on their bicycles, perhaps I should have one on my car that says ‘One more car – sorry about that!’

Motoring can have compensations: a dramatic journey last week I described thus on my blog:

“Weird weather report. Walked to the distant car park in Howden in heavy rain. Sun shone, a rainbow formed a smudgy arc and the air felt like a hundred other people breathed it first. The car was baking. Set off in a thunderstorm, then everything quietened for a while. The sky looked like a bruise. The fields of wheat glowed. The wind turbines barely turned. All rather scenic. By Elvington the road was a river, more or less. Some drivers pulled over but those of us made of sterner, stupider stuff carried on. Dry at home, the house hot and dark.”

The next evening a different drama. It is 9pm when the late shift ends. The weather has its back to the day. A nothing night. Warm, cloudy, dull.

Ten minutes into the journey, there is a straight mile before North Duffield where one can hit 60mph. The 40mph sign for the village comes into view followed by a flashing warning that slows me (a speeding ticket in Leeds last year taught me that lesson).

My head is full of nothing much other than Fleetwood Mac on the CD player and me wondering how I became the sort of man who drives a longish way to work.

Just before the village a deer, quite large and reddish-coloured, appears at the side of the road. The animal looks at me, and at my hunk of 40mph commuting metal. The deer is mere flesh and blood, but there is something else: ancient daring, perhaps. It springs forward and dashes across in front of me.

My heart thumps. That would have been a Big Bang, an even bigger mess. I drive home, nervy with thumping heart, but glad the deer escaped. A friend who once bought a roadkill recipe book and tried a few meals would have been impressed if I’d turned up with that deer for his pot, I acknowledge with a grimace.. Not that I would have known what to do with it.

If one must drive to work, my commute between York and Howden is pleasant, taking in country lanes and where possible avoiding hitting the wildlife, but I’d still rather cycle (although not the 40-mile round trip!).

I pull the car into the drive; like the deer, safe home in one piece


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