July 15, 2014 by benmblackman
“Road trippppppppppppppppp!” We shouted as we set off for Miami in our Chevy 69.
Well ok maybe not but that sounded a lot cooler than, “Are you on your booster seat ok? Let me make sure your seat belt is on properly. Have you got Brown Bear? Don’t touch that. Or that. I said don’t touch that. Come on, let’s get going.”
Two men (one a 5 year old girl).
1 convertible (mid range 4×4).
Route 66 (well – M6, M42, M1, baby).
Somehow we had managed to get up, showered, dressed (smartly too, we were heading for my Nana’s 90th Birthday Party in London you see) and out of the house by 8am. We just needed to stop off, get some petrol and snacks, inflate the tyres to optimum pressure (I wouldn’t usually be allowed to do this but Mrs B wasn’t with us so I was in charge. God I’m a rebel when I’m in charge).
By 8.45am there was no stopping us. Wind in our hair (air conditioning), tunes on the radio (Eliza Doolittle on CD) we were heading down the freeway in the hot hot sun (overcast M6).
Things started to get a little crazy at the Thelwall Viaduct.
“This is the Thelwall Viaduct, darling.” I proudly told her. My general knowledge of the M6 really knows no bounds.
“What is Thelwall?”
“It’s a place.”
“What is a viaduct?”
“Why don’t they just call it a bridge?”
“Well, a viaduct is a bridge over a big piece of water or a valley or something, I think?”
“Why don’t they just call it a Water Bridge?”
“Because it’s a viaduct.”
“No, a Viaduct.”
“A big bridge over big water.”
I turned up Eliza Doolittle. Unfortunately 1 of the 2 songs The Calpol Kid most likes to play (on repeat, forever) had been scratched so I was required to listen to Pack Up Your Troubles every other song. If Eliza ever needs an understudy we could nail that song us two. I’ve got to be honest, I prefer Mr Medicine for our harmonizing, plus it doesn’t have the bit where I don’t know if she (Eliza or The Calpol Kid for that matter) is singing ‘ship’ or ‘shit’ (going down).
I know how to let my hair down at weekends and I wasn’t afraid to splash the cash (dropped 3 coins, had to get out of car to pick them up) on the M6 Toll Road.
The Calpol Kid turned stand up comedian: “I mean, has anyone ever actually been on the toll road off-peak? What-is-it-like-for 1 minute at lunchtime on Christmas Day or something? Am-I-right-am-I-right?”
Ok, she didn’t really say that. Instead of cracking the funnies she went down the line of:
“What is a Toll Plaza?”
“It’s where we pay for going on the road.”
“Why don’t they call it a checkout?”
“Because it doesn’t sound as good as a Toll Plaza. It’s European I think.”
“Are we in Europe still?”
“Yes, we’re in Birmingham.”
We cruised for a while longer, not a care in the world. When you’ve got a whole pack of Wholegrain Rice Cakes (slightly salted, organic) and half a tank of petrol, why would you?
217 miles and approximately 23.47 plays of Pack Up Your Troubles later – Cinderalla and I got to the ball. Great fun was had by everyone, especially The Calpol Kid who, by my reckoning, consumed no less than:
1.75 litres Blackcurrant Cordial.
At least 11 Sausage Rolls.
342 grams Kettle Crisps.
3.4 slices Birthday Cake.
½ Vol-Au-Vent (mushroom paste) – “Yukkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!”
One of the downsides of taking your 5 year-old daughter to family gatherings is the fact she tends to believe whatever they tell her. “Your Daddy used to wear his sisters dresses and lipstick and make us call him Jessica or he’d cry.” Was certainly amongst her favourites.
But we couldn’t sit around listening to my brother and sisters make up stories about me all day. The party came to a close (they don’t tend to last as long when they reach 90 I’ve found) and by 5.30pm we were back on the road. A couple of hours later the questions started, they always do.
“How big is Mars?” “What is it made out of?” “Is it hot?” “How hot?” “Hotter than the sun?” “How hot is the sun?” “But exactly though?” “Where is the nearest volcano to here?” “Could you run faster than volcano fire?” “Even if you knew it was really going to hurt though?” “Why not?” “How did God make the world?” “Why does it rain?” “What is p..p…p….p…pre-cip-it-ation?” “Why is there a rainbow?” “Do they have rainbows in Africa?” “Why don’t the children in Africa have as much food as we do?” “Can we go to Africa?” “Tomorrow?” “Next week?” “When I’m 10 though?”
Didn’t she know I was busy trying to ‘beat the SatNav’. Am I the only one who plays this game? You know, the guide it gives as to what time you will arrive at your destination. It’s not really a guide is it? Rather a target, a competition. I see it as a personal insult my SatNav would even suggest it might take me that long to get from A to B. And why on earth would I follow that ridiculous suggested route anyway? I never use SatNav for actual directions, rather for the challenge.
Fatigue set in around mile 317 and we were a bit bored of Eliza by this stage so we just went acapela 1D (that’s how us cool dudes say One Direction you know). I can only conclude that, when you sing Best Song Ever on loop with your daughter, for 32 minutes without stopping at any point (6 junctions and 35 miles no less), it really is the best song ever.
But the fun had to stop some time. 13½ hours, 434 miles, £8.40 in Tolls and 1 Burger King (“Don’t tell your Mum”) later, we were home. We left 5 year old girls and came back men. Plus, we knew all the words to Best Song Ever.
“Good night darling. Thank you for being such a good girl today.”
“You’re welcome, Jessica.”