High summer and driving home West along the motorway with a car full to bursting with kids and luggage.
The sun was shining bright hot and clammy through the windows, my three children were happily engaged in some low to mid level squabbling in the back, and I was desperately looking out for a sign to the nearest services because I really needed to pee. But rather than any merciful sign from god declaring that there would soon be toilets, I saw instead a flashing and rather ominous looking warning informing us that we could soon be expecting long delays. Shit.
The traffic soon slowed to a sporadic crawl, eventually stopping dead altogether. After about five minutes or so people began to emerge from their cars, frowning, resigned, half leaning, half melting against the motorway barrier. I can’t remember ever needing to pee so much in my entire life. So I got out too and began looking manically around for a convenient bush or magically appearing portaloo. Alas.
I noticed then two men making their way down the lanes, leaning into peoples open windows and generally looking as though they may have information to impart. They appeared grave as they approached and informed me that there had been a fatal accident and we would not be moving for at least three hours. To which my five year old daughter responded by clapping her hand dramatically to her forehead and shouting, “Oh my god!” whilst I stared balefully into the middle distance and whimpered, “But I need to pee.”
My thinking took on an over flowing bladder induced feverishness. What to do, what to do? And then I spotted a half full six pint milk carton in the front passenger footwell – a leftover from my mothers to take home – and at last I had a plan. There was nothing for it. I snatched up the carton and barrelled out of the car to empty it out on the hard shoulder. People everywhere looked on in puzzlement as I hopped about, splashing milk onto the verge before running back to my car issuing loud orders for all the children to get into the front seats quick.
Now I have attempted some mean feats in my life, but none much compare to having to squat down and wedge myself between the back and front seats of a tiny Renault Clio whilst endeavouring to pee accurately into an empty plastic milk carton. I can tell you the varying shouts, hysterical shrieks of laughter, and exaggerated sick noises coming from the front did not improve my aim, plus I’m not entirely sure that every hairy trucker within a three mile radius really needed to hear my daughters reedy voice yelling out of the open window for all it was worth that her mummy was weeing in the car. But they did anyway, the lucky things.
So mission accomplished (good lord, the relief) and the lid carefully screwed back on the carton, I then proceeded to scrabble about on the back seat in an effort to pull up my leggings whilst still retaining a modicum of dignity. At which point Eldest son casually informed me that the man behind us on the motorbike was staring intently into our car. I looked behind me. Indeed he was. Hmm. I teetered on the edge of giving him a lascivious wink, but thought better of it.
There is actually a moral to this story believe it or not. And the moral is this: Don’t listen to random imparters of information – they don’t know shit. Because a mere five minutes later we saw miniature cars up in the distance begin to surge enthusiastically forward.
Turned out the nearest service station was only two miles away.