Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sent to Coventry!

I leaped at the opportunity to meet with an old friend... not THAT old ....well a friend that I have known a long time....while I am up in Natal. She has lived up here a long time but has recently spent a year in the UK. Where to meet? I suggested the Pavilion shopping mall because it has lots of places to eat and sit down and also because I have been there before - I know how to get there, which is a great recommendation when you are in an unfamiliar area. "Ok - Where in the Pavilion," asks Olly and in the absence of knowing many places there - WW immediately sprang to mind but I know that WW has many entrances so to avoid confusion - I suggested we meet by the green peppers - there is only one place in WW where the green peppers are displayed!
Excitement mounts, the day arrived and off I set in good time to find the green peppers in WW and my picture the darling Olly waiting for me there with one in each hand! V suggested I leave early before the green peppers become red peppers and waves me off in the bush lodge's skindonkel-no aircon-no frills-bakkie! I bounced my away along the N3 keeping an eye on the time - I take the exit, I see the Pavilion and turn where I think I am supposed to and..... I am back on the N3 travelling towards ...Port Shepstone I think! "Sherbet!" Well I didn't actually say sherbet to be honest.  Don't panic - I think - I will take the next exit and turn around back onto the freeway - I am perfectly punctual its dead on 1.30pm. I take the next exit. There is no means of getting back onto the freeway. I am hurtling along an unknown road with lorries juddering past me, to who knows where!
Olly and I have been communicating via messenger - she doesn't have a number having been out of the country for a long while and if she has I don't have it. So I cautiously message her that I have just passed the Pavilion and am trying to get back on track. I receive a photo in reply of beautifully displayed green peppers....some are already red!
I switch on Tom Tom on my phone and put in the location. I await instructions - a map appears but it also appears that Tim (my selected voice) on Tom Tom is not on speaking terms with me. Trying to look at the screen while on a very fast road surrounded by whizzing vehicles is hair raising, I can't pullover as this is the freeway so I know I need to get into a place where I can sort Tim on Tom Tom out. I pull off and follow the road till I come to a place where I can park. I reset Tom Tom - I cannot get Tim to speak to me - no matter how many buttons I push, no matter hard I plead. Tim has sent me to Coventry or in this case PineTown or somewhere on the way to PineTown. I position myself so I can drive while looking at the screen of my phone. I contract Olly - apologise and say I am trying to find my way back. She pleads that its very cold by the green peppers-going red, and tells me she is going to sit and have a warm drink somewhere more comfortable. I take a deep breath and set off from whence I came trying to watch the screen and drive.  I drive another 20 mins and Tom Tom takes me to a cul-de-sac in which there is an entrance to a gated complex. A very tall man with a short grey fringe and a religious look about him approaches my car. Considering that I have been praying quite hard during this time, I believe that the universe has sent me some sort of divine RAC monk to help me. I tell him I am lost - he tells me I am found. I am in heaven! He starts to give me instructions and I show him Tom Tom - he proves that he is indeed an unearthly being by throwing his hands to the heavens and declaring he has never seen such technology! I listen intently to his right, left, straight on, follow the road instructions - take a deep breath - am tempted to ask him to pray with me before I set off again from whence I have come. After a few U turns, I am back on track on the freeway - I see the Pavilion - I hear a heavenly choir - I take the exit - its there in front of me and then its gone again. I sail past once more missing my exit because its unsafe to switch lanes or reverse up the freeway and I am now on route to King Shaka airport or North Coast or South Coast or somewhere!
I now say, "Flip it!"  Well I didn't actually say 'flip it' to be honest!  Don't panic - I think - I will take the next exit and turn around back onto the freeway. I message Olly and try to reassure her that I am OK while apologising. She tries to cheer me up by saying she has now retreated to a place that sells tea, coffee, light meals and wine and what shall she order for me."Wine!" I type as I sail off the freeway at the next exit. I watch my screen, I drive - I beg, plead and start negotiating with Tim on Tom Tom to please forgive whatever I have said or done to him and to please just start speaking to me again. Silence! I drive along, up, around, I see a school, I see a market, there is a strange smell and not a nice feeling. I see shacks. I see stray dogs, I see a sign that tells me I am in Sydenham, I see a funeral home - I am doomed! I dare not stop - this is not an area that invites stopping. I lock the doors - twice - I drive as the sweat trickles down my back. I cant turn around - I pray. I curse JC Le Roux - Well I didn't actually say JC Le Roux to be honest.  Don't panic - I think - I will turn around just now and get back onto the freeway. Almost immediately I see a stationary police car! YEAH!!!! Good old JC - I pull in front of it - there is no pavement it's not that sort of place that has pavements. I grab my bag, phone and my belongings and clutching them to me, I knock knock on the police car's shaded windows. It silently opens. I cry, 'Please you have got to help me - I am so so lost. Please take me to the Pavilion". They look at me like I am mad - I must admit I do look deranged. An alien demanding to be taken shopping -  I am lost and now an hour late! They can't do that they tell me - they are on an operation! Expecting a stray bullet at any moment I duck back to my car and follow their directions. A garage on the right, another on the left - under a bridge, speed bumps, right turn, left turn. My phone pings - not Tim from TomTom but Olly in Centre Court at the Pavilion asking if I am OK and telling me that the staff at the place she is at is suspecting she has an imaginary friend. She has now sat for over an hour with a second glass of wine in front of her. I say I am sorry - I am tempted to tell her to tell my children that I love them in case I am doomed to drive for eternity!
THEN - I see the signs - The Pavilion - as easily as I got lost, I am found, I am here and only an hour and a half late. Ninety minutes of white knuckle driving. Wine has never tasted so good!
Thank you Olly for waiting for me - No thanks to you Tim from Tom Tom who I have permanently
sent to Coventry! I shall be installing a new version with a female voice - someone I can rely on - perhaps she will be called Olly!

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