Sometimes A Great Notion/In All Syriasness…

Last Tuesday, a short while after lunch, I was lazing around watching telly. Loose Women had just finished and the news had just started but it was alright; Dickinson’s Real Deal would be on soon. Then there was a knock at the door. And then the doorbell rung too. I decided that this wasn’t simply a coincidence and went to investigate.

Now normally I wouldn’t answer the door at this hour; I hate the awkwardness of pointing out to a door-to-door door salesman that I already have a door and that it still works else he wouldn’t have been able to knock on it, and I also don’t want to go to any Baptist Churches. But today I was expecting a delivery so I bounced downstairs to answer it in the style of Clyde from Every Which Way But Loose.

By the time I had seen the Hi-Vis and ID Badge through the frosted window it was too late; I had answered the door to a Charity Student.  Her deep blue eyes encouraged me to listen and, buoyed by a good hair day I did. She asked me if I had ever considered sponsoring a Northerner. I honestly had not, but as she reeled off glum fact-after-glum fact it all made sense and I knew that I had a moral duty. For it was only circumstance and an education that separated me and a Northerner.

She revealed that it was indeed grim up north; did you know that on some Northern Trains they don’t even have working toilets? And in Middlesborough, they don’t even have Channel 5?

I told her I would go one better than sponsoring a Northerner. I would take a small colony of them on holiday. I arranged to pick them all up early on the Saturday morning at a pre-designated M62 Service Station, and then we would go wherever they wanted, using my Air Miles I had carefully saved with my Nectar card. I had wanted to visit Cuba but I had found my soul; I would help our friends in the North instead. The Charity girl was almost swept off her feet and I could tell by the way she handed me my signed Ant & Dec certificate she was impressed.

But as I closed the door it dawned on me. We don’t actually have a doorbell. And then I realised I can’t actually drive; not legally anyway. And I shop at Asda; I’ve never owned a Nectar card. I started to feel guilty and I could scarcely concentrate on David Dickinson’s Bronzed Wisdom. I knew that I ought to ring the Charity girl who’s name I could never recall and explain the truth; but how could I? Every time I picked up the phone I saw Ant (or possibly Dec) staring back at me; his face pinched, his eyes forlorn. He could barely afford enough hair to cover his forehead. No. I couldn’t go back. Not now. The North needed me. It was only Tuesday afternoon. If I booked my test now, and played a quick bit of Gran Turismo, then I could easily be driving by Saturday morning. And I knew where we could go to too. The look on those little grubby Northern faces so lacking in Vitamin C and Nivea as we arrived at Clacton Beach was all that kept me going.

So Saturday came and I began the long Cycle up the M62. I know it wasn’t what they was expecting but I knew I could provide at least two Northern adults with the trip of a lifetime; with one sat behind me and one in the front wicker basket.

The Charity girl who’s name I could never recall could hardly control her emotions when I parked up. She reverted to a playground school girl and ignored me, continuing to play it cool as I was introduced to my Northern adoptees. Brian was a 56 year old ex-miner and Tony was a 62 year old bus driver. They looked sceptical at first; understandably they were nervous. But the promise of a mint flavoured hard candy stick with their names rolled un-readably through the middle and some Clacton air soon enticed them.

As I attached Tony tightly to the wicker basket I’m sure I heard him weeping tears of joy as he desperately asked the Charity girl  who’s name I could never recall to choose another lost and lonely Northerner; I think he felt un-worthy bless him. But quick as a flash and with a warm wink at the Charity girl who’s name I can never recall I was off to fulfil their little Northern night-dreams.

Now the problem with cycling south down the M62 as you well know is that it’s quite steep. Especially when you have a 62 year old Northern adult in your wicker basket. The first two miles were enjoyable enough as Brian regaled me with the story of his granddad Ian, who the spent the Great Depression out of work; there was apparently no-chance for an Elvis Impersonator in the Great British North in 1934. I know. Shocking it really is.

But soon I began to tire. Brian’s stories became incomprehensible, and although I was grateful for the constant milely-stops to buy chips in gravy, I knew I couldn’t go any further.

Four days later we arrived back at the M62 Service Station. Again the Charity Girl who’s name I could never recall could hardly control her emotions. Brian and Tony said they had had a marvellous time and were all the better for it, exactly as I had asked them too when I slipped them a cool hundred each to stay quiet.

Because in fact we never made it to Clacton. We went to Quaser Laser just outside of Bury.

And I’m sure that this is sort of what has happened in Syria the past few weeks. It’s just a grand notion that has got of hand. If the Charity girl who’s name I could never recall had actually checked that I could indeed drive and did in fact have a nectar card then I would never have had to spend 48 hours camped out behind a discarded dust bin with only enough battery life for one shot left hiding from two rickets-ridden Northerners. The Syrian leaders must realise that what they are doing is wrong; but it is incredibly hard to get yourself off of a slippery slope. And that goes the same for both misleading Northerners because you don’t want to lose face to a pretty girl who’s name I could never recall, and genocide.

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