No Road Markings

by ericavanhorn

6 August Saturday

There were only four cars, but we waited a long time to board the ferry.  The docks were in Bootle, north of Liverpool. Passenger cars were the least important part of the crossing. The ship was designed for freight and for trucks. Increasingly, trucks leave their loads at the dock and drive away with a different load. Perhaps this is a way to economize on fuel.  Innumerable long trailers were manoeuvred onto the ship by small vehicles in which the driver could swivel his seat changing direction to either push or pull the load. With no cabs to take up space, a lot more lorry loads fit onto the ship. We watched all of the loading and the skilled movements. Once we were on board, we went to a small window where we were given a cabin key. The small window was also the location for the duty free shop which consisted of a single shelf of quietly rattling bottles.

It was already 8.15 by the time we got to our tiny cabin. A loud-speaker announcement told us that supper would be served from 8-9 pm. Our food and our cabins were included in the price of the crossing. Everyone who was on the boat went to the small cafeteria line where we had a choice of four different main courses and one pudding. There were not many lorry drivers on the boat. Each of the few who were there sat alone at a table. The small dining room was quiet as each man fiddled with his phone or watched something while he ate. One man finished his food and telephoned his wife. I assume it was his wife. He told her that he had eaten chicken curry and rice for his tea. He told her this three times. He said that the company was paying and that No, he did not have any salad but he had custard and an apple tart. He then explained how far he needed to drive in the morning to make his delivery and how far he needed to drive to pick up his next load and he said he would be back on the boat the next night and he did not know what he would have for his tea tomorrow, but he said he would be home after the new load had been delivered. His name was Taggy. It was embroidered in white capital letters on his company shirt. A few men got drinks from the bar. One German driver drank three pint glasses full of tomato juice. At 9 o’clock the food was cleared away and the overhead lights flashed. Another announcement came over the loudspeaker saying that the bar would close in ten minutes. We were told that breakfast would be served at 04.15 and that unloading in Dublin would commence at 05.30. We were instructed to go to bed.  As we walked through the little lounge area, we saw the elderly man and woman and their middle aged son who was their driver. They had been in the car in front of us as we waited to load. The three of them sat in a tight little semicircle right in front of a small television watching the Commonwealth Games being broadcast from Birmingham. They waved to us and said they could not go to sleep until they had finished their final cup of tea.

We all ate breakfast quietly in the early morning.   We waited for a long time while the lorry loads were taken off the boat in the dawn. It was not fully light when we rolled off the ferry and drove through the empty streets of Dublin on our way home to Tipperary.

7 August Sunday

A message from Fiona alerted me to a huge rainbow. I ran outside to see it and I tried to take a photograph but it was too big. I could not see either end.

8 August Monday

I went into the shop looking for potatoes. I saw Roosters, Wexford Queens, and McGrath’s New Potatoes available for sale. I could not remember what Wexford Queens are like and I did not know what breed the New ones were, so I asked Laurence which potatoes were the least floury. He told me that the Queens were lovely and floury as were the New ones from his relations up the road. He promised me that the Roosters were the least floury and that they were maybe even a bit Soapy. He told me that his mother had always been scornful of any potato that was in the least bit soapy. He said that soapy was not a positive attribute. I told him that I called such potatoes waxy, and that for me waxy was good. I told him that I am always on the hunt for a potato that is not floury. He assured me that this was firm evidence that I have not a drop of Irish blood.

11 August Thursday

Several signs have appeared on the road where there has been some resurfacing. The signs tell us to be careful because there are no road markings. There have never been road markings on this road. This is not News. There have been no lines nor any kind of markings for decades, but now we have signs to announce this.

12 August Friday

The Black Cat continues to appear every day at 5 o’clock.  She waits close to the kitchen door and catches my eye.  She is bolder and bolder with each arrival and she will eat whatever she is given. I have not yet found one thing that the starving cat will not eat. She even ate some old hummus. She came into the house and walked around last night.  She did not stay long but she showed no fear inside the house and seemed interested to look carefully at everything before she left. I think of the cat as she, but I do not know for certain what sex it is.

13 August Saturday

The latch for the shed door has been adapted to fit the droop.  The hole for the latch remains where it was but the angle of the whole thing has changed to accommodate age.

16 August Tuesday

The figs are not ready to pick but the raspberries are. I have finished picking buckets full of black currants. The apples and plums are now demanding attention. I cannot keep up with the fruit harvesting. Already the freezer is full.

20 August Saturday

There is jumble of books for the taking in two wire baskets on the way into SuperValu. Sometimes the bins are full to overflowing. Sometimes they are kind of empty. A strangely worded sign invites us to help ourselves: