Last night, I had dinner at the M25 services. I don’t mean I stopped for a break mid-journey. I mean I purposefully got into my car and drove from my house to a service station on the M25 because it was the only place to eat.
This is not quite what I envisaged when I left London for the countryside. I imagined cosy meals in welcoming pubs. But of course the reality is that everything in the sticks shuts at an unknowable hour that changes every evening, so no matter what time you turn up the staff are cleaning the counter down.
I don’t have a kitchen yet. The house is being gutted. The temporary power blew the microwave up. All we have where the kitchen should be is a room full of teabags and sugar that the builder boyfriend and his team of plumbers and plasterers inhale like air.
Every night, when the men have gone home, we either barbecue or eat out — if we can get there between 1905 and 2049.
But when the BB works late into the evening, impervious to hunger or thirst, I have to go on the hunt for food alone, like a lioness.
‘This is living,’ I thought to myself, as I sat in my Volvo with my KFC in the dark car park, stuffing chips into my mouth, watching the characters of the night, mainly truckers, workmen and people in jogging pants, wanting, possibly needing emergency takeaway.
Someone got beaten to death here a few nights ago. Perhaps it was a fight over southern fried chicken is the grim possibility that comes into my head as I gulp down my dinner. When I drive back to the cottage, the builder b is asleep on the sofa covered in dogs.