“We’re Women, We Can Ask For Directions”

With the tour of love over, it was time to kick off the main event (not that the tour of love wasn’t important, it was a tour of love after all, love is always important … and you know, I even named that part of the road trip … not that I don’t love Scotland … oh just let me get on with this …), I picked up Bonny from the train station and we hit the M6 heading north.

For those who are curious, the UK is about the length of New Zealand’s North Island (I’m never sure whether to capitalise that – is it the ‘North Island’ because that’s it’s name or because it’s the north one? It says a lot about NZ that we only bothered to give one island a proper name: Stewart Island, the smallest one in the deep south) … the map, which for the most part are drawn to satisfy the political demands of nations with more weaponry, English and smaller land masses, would lead you to think otherwise … so the drive to Glasgow from Birmingham took us about 6 hours. What’s the best way to enter Scotland? Having the radio suddenly play The Proclaimers (I’m Gonna Be, no less) as you pass a sign pointing you to Glasgow (yes, I know they’re from Fife, let me have my moment) – no kidding! A good omen if ever there was one (I suspect a bad one would have been Mull of Kintyre … *shudder*).

Glasgow is the perfect antidote to London. It’s still a busy metropolis but people smile as they pass you by and say please, thank you, sorry, words of wonder and strangeness to a Londoner’s ear. It was, of course, mighty cold and after about an hour of walking around the dark city centre admiring the Christmas lights (a bit of George Square, below), I could no longer feel my knees – I’m pretty sure my body fat solidifying was not a good thing …

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The next morning, after a wander through the city in daylight, it was on to the A82 up Loch Lomond into the Highlands (which is where the title quote comes from: after trying to leave Glasgow city, we get a bit confused … we pull over and Bonny suggests we cross the road to the post office and ask for directions … I hesitate, Bonny looks at me and says “we’re women, we can ask for directions” – good thing we did too, we had overshot the Great Western Road by a block, a quick turn left and then right set us on the right path).

Imagine, if you will, of a writer who has been stuck for inspiration the past few months … sure shows and films have made their mark, but nothing has been of the thunderbolt sort that kind of rips open your chest and sears the soul you didn’t know you have … the ghosts, the echoes, the memories that pour out of those moody mountains … it also helped that, as we had lost all radio signals, we had Jesus Christ Superstar (original concept album and an impulse buy from Glasgow) playing on the stereo – frequently the orchestra would match the scenery.

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I know the plays that I will write in this place. I have to come back here.

All I needed was a seagull and I would be home – lo and behold, an hour later a seagull appeared (later on we were only able to get BBC Radio 2, and what were they playing? The Flight of the Conchords radio series … ). We joined Charlotte, Jenny and Helen at Charlotte’s lovely man, Craig’s place. Pizza, wine, professional bull riding (it was on the telly – yeah, I know, but the commentary is rather amusing if nothing else), amusing/scaring the Roybridge locals, Helen’s shark like pool playing skills and other hijinks ensued – all throughly paid for the next morning with lack of sleep and hangovers to match. With bleary eyes, Bonny and I continued up to Inverness (pretty), drove through Elgin and ended up in beautiful Aberdeen for the night … a very early night …

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We left early to beat the parking restrictions and hit Edinburgh as soon as possible. Thankfully after talking it up to Bonny the whole drive down, Edinburgh, as always, was just beautiful. Somewhere in the plans of arriving in the UK, I was going to live here, but managed to get myself stuck in London … more on that later … for now let’s just sit back and take a deep, refreshing breath in …

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Charlotte was kind enough to give us shelter for another night and by the following afternoon we reluctantly dragged ourselves into the car and drove off back to Birmingham … down the A1 we did have one final moment of spectacular beauty, this time gifted to us in England – Antony Gormley’s heart stoppingly beautiful Angel of the North

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Only a few days later and I’m at Heathrow, sitting on the floor between duty free stores talking to Kathryn on the phone. I’m not ready to go home. Not even to stay until November and leave again as planned … I am coming home, hell the ticket is booked and paid for, I have shows in the works, but I don’t know if I even want to stay up until my birthday … I know, I just need to read my own previous blog entries to see how unsuccessful my London stint was but maybe if I were to skip London and try Edinburgh … oh look, there’s lots for us to talk about – next post, yes?

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One Response to ““We’re Women, We Can Ask For Directions””

  1. I wouldn’t call your London stint unsuccessful… I mean, obviously you might have some sort of criteria specific to that particular descriptor, but my view of it was that you left the city really energised and motivated and ready to take on the world… which is a success in itself as very few people feel like that EVER let alone after miserable London!

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