I wrote about our new 24 hour laundrette a few weeks about, which you can read about here, and it turns out that there is a reason for these laundrettes, for there are two, one each at the petrol stations on the road out of town. The reason is a bright shiny new petrol station that has opened and which looks set to suck up a lot of the local business. Where the laundrette inspired me, this new petrol station, though born from the same human desire for progress and shiny things, arouses much more conflicted feelings.
I have only ever seen these particular petrol stations on my road trips up the country. The franchise appeared a few years ago, bright beacons in country dampened by rain and austerity. They won my grudging admiration, for even with my 21st century cynicism, my concern for eco issues and all seven seasons of Mad Men under my belt, it was hard for me not to see these stations as a glittering promise of a brave new world. So successful is their marketing image-the selection of cafes, the clean bright seating areas visible through sparkling windows-that I found myself imagining that their petrol is not derived from icky, black, shrinking oil reserves but from the breath of summer flowers and the urine of the blue birds of happiness with 10,000 miles to the litre (I am conflicted about metric too). Maybe it’s just that I get excited on long journeys (very excited) but every time I see one of these places I have to stop, if not to put cute animal pee in my car then to buy some magical, zero-calorie junk food or tea that is the very exilir of the long-lost tribe of the Tuatha De Danann.
Imagine my confusion then to see one of these heavenly way-stations a mile or so from my house. On the face of it I should be happy. But I am not. It is not meant to be there. It is meant to emerge from the dark motorway as a promise of rest and revival, a shiny beacon of hope in the long journey of the soul. If it is close by my usual terminus, what does that mean?Is the journey nearly over?Is death now close by too?
As you, dear reader, may have noticed, I have a habit of thinking too much, waxing lyrical and getting carried away, often all three at once. Despite being aware of my failings I have yet to pull my car into the forecourt of this new establishment. It feels wrong. I worry that visiting it might inspire the universe to send me on a longer, more permanent journey. I do not want to be struck down in my prime (ish), or even struck by lightning-which, in a petrol station, would be catastrophic for more than just me. Such superstition it has inspired in me that I even avoid looking at it, which is sort of hard as it is very big and very shiny. It may seem illogical but to be on the safe side I am sticking with our local stations, who have stepped up to the challenge with the 24 hour laundrettes and cheaper petrol. Not so illogical then.
But I do not hate the petrol stations of the gods, I just want to keep their light for when I am travelling, when I am flying through the dark, wet night in my chariot miles and miles from home.
And now a shameless plug. I have recently restarted my Etsy Shop, Monster Mermaids, where I currently sell a selection of illustrations from this blog. Prices are low for original art work and P&P is free world wide on most items so please visit if you are looking for gifts or feel free to contact me through the shop or here on the About me page if you have queries. I will be updating stock weekly so drop in and spread the word. The illustration above is available to view or buy at this link…