Sometimes, days are just plain sailing. Up early(ish), breakfasted, dressed, and out and on with the rest of the day, and in what seems like a flash the day is coming to an end once again.
Most days, it could be said, are generally like that.
Some days, however, are so far removed from the truth, they are, well, unbelievable.
I couldn’t believe it.
I’d completely forgotten that my car was running low on fuel, and in all of the confusion had set off on a journey where petrol was most definitely going to be needed.
I was on a strange road, heading toward a strange town, in (and this is the strangest of all) a county that shouldn’t actually have been there. I was in Somerset, having just crossed the Cheshire-Somerset border.
My petrol light lit the inside of my car with a luminous orange glow. It was blinking with conviction. My car was thirsty, and was screaming at me to fill her up.
I didn’t know where the nearest petrol station was, but needed one desperately.
Ahead on the road, I noticed another road junction coming up, and on the corner was an old cart. A cart that I imagined had probably been drawn by a fine Shire in its day, but now it stood by the roadside. I noticed a man standing behind it.
I pulled over to the side of the road, and approached the cart. I got out of the car, and noticed that the man was selling apples. If the apples hadn’t given the fact away, a small sign that was on the ground, resting against the cart, certainly did. It said ‘Al’s Apple’s’.
“Good morning!” Beamed who I presumed was Al.
“Morning!” I replied, rejecting the idea of mentioning how my morning had been so far. I looked at my wrist and realised that I didn’t own a watch.
“It’s nine thirty” the man said. He had a defined Somersetian accent, which doesn’t come across very well as I write – I had the same problem with Walpole E. Epstein. “Like an apple?”
“Ah, no thanks,” I said. Food was the last thing on my mind. “Could you tell me where the nearest petrol station is?”
“Yes” Al said, “It be up that road” (that was my interpretation of him speaking by the way, not the actual way he spoke!) He held out an apple. “Go on, take one – for free!”
“Free?” I asked. I noticed there were no signs on the cart for the prices. He wasn’t selling apples – he was giving them away!
“Yes!” he replied, and tossed the green apple over to me. “Have it later if you like. You’ll need something for strength, particularly if you’re going into Meringue. It’s Festival Day!”
“Thanks!” I said. I ran back to the car, and followed Al’s instructions and drove up the lane to the left. A few seconds later, I pulled into a small shop with a petrol pump on the forecourt. It wasn’t self service, so I had to wait for the attendant to come out to me.
I didn’t have to wait long.
To my surprise, it was Al from the cart. My face must have been a picture.
“Good Morning!” Al said, as I wound my window down. “I can tell by your face you’ve met my brother. I’m Mal!” Thank goodness for that, I thought. There was something in the back of my mind that was starting to make me feel as though I was going slightly…
“Full tank?” Mal interrupted my thoughts.
“Oh! Yes please!” I smiled.
Mal didn’t say another word until he asked for the money. I paid cash, I can’t remember the price, but it was well below what I usually pay… I decided to start to get my petrol from there more often.
I said thanks to Mal, and got back into my car.
As I was about to head back to the main road, I noticed another road sign on the other side of the lane, pointing in the opposite direction. ‘Shortcut to Meringue’, it said.
I decided to take that route instead, although the first sign did say one mile. I knew I wasn’t that far away, but the lane I was driving on cut through open fields, and I couldn’t see the first sign of a town anywhere around. There was a hill up ahead, and the town, I thought, must have been just beyond that.
I drove forward, and I realised that I was starting to look forward to seeing this new town…
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