Nearly 300 km from the service station where I was picked up we arrive at Calais just in time to board the 00:50 ferry before it departs.
Onboard – The Pride of Calais – Bob heads off somewhere suggesting I meet him at the truck when in Dover. I spend my last few Francs on a Snickers chocolate bar and go to the bar to smoke my last roll-up.
While in the bar I listen to a party of people with posh English accents being boisterous and happy and see three glam rock weirdoes walk in; a lanky bloke and two becoming ladies.
Bob turns up at the bar and is sitting at the far side with his back to me, having not seen me. A bit later I go over and talk with him about women, work and us both being knackered.
Once in Dover, Bob needs to take an eight hour break to sleep. He gives me the names of two companies who have trucks that go to Nottingham. He says he’ll give me a lift to Northampton in the morning if I don’t get another lift. He shows me the truckers’ rest room and leaves me there having given me about £2 and a quarter ounce of ‘Old Holborn’ tobacco.
The rest room has a few rows of seats facing a television on a wall bracket, a café area and toilets/washrooms.
I spend the money on some cereals and a drink of hot chocolate, eat and drink, then put two chairs together to relax and watch Sky Movies – the end of a war film and Peter Sellers in a pirate comedy – until I doze off…
I wake and it’s 8:30-ish. I go to the toilet and, hello, Bob is here having a shave. His employer has been in touch and he has to wait in Dover until Monday.
Outside, we say ‘Tarah’ and I tell him to have a good life, and then I make my way to the hitching spot.
… I’ve suddenly realised; I’m back in Blighty! So there’s no need to rush. I go for a spot of sunbathing by the sea and a glorious paddle.
An hour or so later I’ve come back to the hitching spot and hitched for, at most, four minutes and got a lift in a truck cabin on it’s own (without it’s trailer, not without it’s driver) that’s taking me to the M2. It’s quite noisy in this cabin but the driver talks with me about travelling and women.
At the M2 I get a lift after fifteen minutes from a man who’s a philosophy teacher. We talk about hitch hiking and the philosophy of maths. He leaves me at a service station where I wait another fifteen minutes and get a lift from a hippy-ish couple and their dog in a small van. We talk about friends and places. They leave me in a pretty crap spot for hitching but close to the M25.
After trying for about half an hour I pick up my backpack and wander down slopes, over bridges and around roundabouts. I get a water refill from a petrol station and after a while a lift for a mile or two to a toll gate. After a bit another chap appears and begins to hitch just up the way from me. Then another guy turns up to hitch…
Two and a half long hours later a young white man and his black girlfriend stop to give all three of us a lift.
They turn out to be going to Sheffield, meaning this lift will get me back to Nottingham. They enjoy going to raves and the bloke is quite arrogant. I thought I’d been on quite a journey this past week but now feel humbled as I hear that one of the other passengers is returning from Italy, while the other one has just got back from Egypt.
A few joints go around and I become quietly stoned…
One at a time the other two passengers are dropped off somewhere or the other and I’m the last one left with the driver and his girlfriend. He asks why sunsets are always different colours to sunrises… After a couple of miles I decide that it must be something to do with the temperature of the particles in the atmosphere and say so. He seems delighted and says that this is the best answer he has heard from anybody.
By the time I’m dropped off at junction 26 of the M1 I’m particularly smashed. I walk toward Nottingham city, hitching as I go. After a mile or two a man pulls up and takes me to within the vicinity of the Queens Medical Hospital.
From there I walk and pass through the city centre towards Sneinton and home. I notice quite an aggressive atmosphere in the city with all the Saturday night ‘pubbers and clubbers’ about… A thing I must have become accustomed to while living in Nottingham.
It’s 23:00 and I arrive home at Burrows Court.
It feels great to be back as I take in the view from my 16th floor window.
I undress… Lay down… Fall straight to sleep.