A GIANT LEAP OF FAITH
The day dawned, but, of course, it did not dawn brightly. It was absolutely freezing. One of the coldest early December days of recent years. It had snowed on and off all night and the car park at the front of my block of flats was like a skating rink. My stomach lurched and wheeled with fright as I dressed for the last time in my Harrow home. Fear’s voice whispered in my ear ‘are you doing the right thing?’ or ‘will you once again live to regret this choice?’ In my lifetime I have taken many giant leaps of faith, some have brought me enormous pleasure and good fortune, but, regrettably, others have launched me into a lion’s den, where I have had to fight for survival and just, but only just, managed to escape with my life. It was impossible at this stage, to know whether this latest venture would prove to be successful or lead me in to yet more trouble.
It is difficult to explain, but, somewhere in my psyche I had an overwhelming urge that would not be ignored. Something, somewhere was calling me to the lands of the West, where my ancestors had been raised for hundreds of years. Generations of predecessors were urging me onwards. Ignored was the fact that I had given up a secure life-long tenancy on a Council flat to go to a private rental that was really more than I could afford. Spirits from the past were beckoning me forward and I knew inside my soul that I would follow their calls, leaving common sense and reason behind me in my wake.
Two lovely Polish chaps packed my belongings in their van. They were marvellous and worked like machines, unbelievably, refusing the several offers of tea and biscuits which were traditionally their privilege. They did not complain once about the icy conditions in the carpark or, to my amazement, about the fact that the lift to the first floor where my Harrow apartment was situated, was out of order. They trudged along corridors and up and down stairs with furniture and belongings as though it were nothing more than a walk in the park and by 11.30 were fastening the hatches and ready to roll. I explained to them that the electrics in my car were faulty and we agreed to take each other’s mobile telephone numbers in case I broke down. I also gave them the number of the Manager of the apartment block in Weymouth, thinking that, if all else failed, I would ring her and give her permission to let the men and my furniture into my new flat. I really was that unsure that my car would make it. I swallowed hard, clambered into the driving seat of my little Fiat and started her up. Without a backward glance, I slithered out of the carpark and into my latest adventure.
I am not a fan of motorway driving and have a particular dislike of the M25, but in order to head for Weymouth, the dreaded motorway must be traversed. I hoped that the snowy weather would prevent all but the foolhardy from driving that day, but alas, the opposite seemed to be the case, the traffic was horrendous. Snow pelted my windscreen as the wipers lurched backwards and forwards and the sky was inky black, despite it only being mid-day. I felt sure that the faulty electric unit would cause the wipers to stop altogether, but somehow, valiantly they waded on. My dashboard looked like a busy telephone exchange with each and every warning light either flashing continuously or showing red. There were seat belt, air bag and open door alarms ringing noisily and the car display unit was telling me repeatedly that I should stop and seek assistance as the car was unfit to drive. Normally when I am driving, I turn the radio on and listen to classic fm, which seems to give me courage. I sing loudly to the tunes that I know and softly to the ones that I don’t, not caring a bit whether I go wrong or not, after all, why should I, there is only me to hear myself and I love my orchestral attempts? This day, however, I could not have the radio on at all, as it seemed to be the only part of the car which had lost its voice completely!
At last my little Fiat and I left the M25 and other motorways behind us and entered Dorset. I knew the way instinctively and felt instantly more at ease. The weather actually deteriorated the further West I travelled but my mood brightened with every mile and I began to sing Ten Green Bottles and other such nonsense to cheer myself along. The pit of fear that had lurked deep in my stomach vanished and a fluttering excitement took its place. I felt younger, free and alive. Gone were the traffic jams and the high rise buildings and in their place were rolling hills and quaint buildings. The smell of the sea was in my nostrils and I could almost hear the sound of the waves upon the shore. Finally, I reached the brow of a well-known hill between Dorchester and Weymouth and realized that the snow had stopped for the time being and the sun was weakly smiling at me. A panoramic sea view was ahead and away in the distance was my beloved Portland. I had made it. Against all odds the car had delivered me safely and I was back where I belonged.