Don't you hate it when someone says, 'Could you just....?'
I don't like 'Could you just...?'.
The 'Just', so innocent and sweet between the 'Could' and the 'You', says it all.
It won't be Just. It will be Very Extremely Unjust.
Mark my words.
And so, when Eldest rings up to say, 'Could you just...?' I very nearly said No.
But as his Mother it seemed a tad churlish, so said Yes.
And that was why I found myself in the Armpit of Croydon, a good fifty miles from where we live, on an extremely Rainy Day, which said Son had announced was the Best Place to Meet.
After half an hour of phone calls of
'Where are You?'
'Well, I am driving to Croydon. Where are YOU?'
'I am on a train to Croydon.'
'Where is your train?'
'Yes, but where?'
'Not sure...' sort of thing, was beginning to get a little Irritated.
And so, when I found out through a text, read illegally as I waited at traffic lights, that I was to meet Eldest at East Croydon Station, was not Terribly Amused.
Because there is no such flipping place as East Croydon. There is a train station. Oh, yes, one of those. But when you look up East Croydon in the A-Z, is it bloody there?
There's North Croydon, and South Croydon and even an obliging West Croydon. But no mention of an East Croydon, which was the only Buggering Croydon I wanted to go to.
Get out of car and ask someone... Where is East Croydon station?
Or... Continue on driving, hitting the steering wheel in frustration and shouting very loudly, I HATE CROYDON.
And so, continued to drive around Croydon, yelling spasmodically to Self until the next text.
'Where r u?'
Found this text a tricky one to answer as had no bloody idea of where I was, or where I was going.
Ground-breaking moment as I spied 'East Croydon Station' on a sign post.
Hastened towards it and finally, after several tense minutes of one-way systems going the wrong bloody way, found my way in East Croydon Station.
Texted in triumphant tones 'AM HERE AT STATION. Where r u?'
Phone call back,
'Oh, I walked off down a road. Can you come and get me?'
If only I could have had a large Axe. Because I might have used it at this point.
'Where did you go?' I asked between gritted teeth.
'Not sure... the road is called.... Nope, can't quite see.'
We spoke for a few minutes. By 'spoke' I mean that I shrieked, and he answered in monosyllables.
He said a few helpful things like,
'Well, the road is black and it's a bit holey.'
Then he said, 'Oh, there is a tram.'
At this point slammed down the phone and drove off down the road, checking it for holes and trams, and muttering all the while that I would never EVER do him a favour EVER AGAIN.
When, behold, saw a Tram. And a hole in the road. OMG. And Eldest.
Waved and yelled and shouted out of the window. He saw me, and waved and shouted something, just as I disappeared into a One Way Gaping Hole of a Bastard Tunnel, that swallowed me and spewed me out the other end, a good half a mile away from Eldest.
Swearing some of the more Colourful Language I have learned as a mother, I performed a rather clever, if highly illegal, U Turn, and went back down the Underpass.
No Eldest. Searched the bloody road and holes and trams. Gone.
Text from him a minute later.
'Come back. Where r u goin?'
Bugger me. Where was I going????? MOI?
Bloody MAD was where I was going. Performed another teeth-chattering U Turn and searched the streets again. No Flipping Eldest.
Then, at last minute, saw him, open-mouthed and yelling, as I Once Again Disappeared into the Underpass.
Was now becoming Rather Flippant at breaking all the rules of the Highway Code, and for a third time in less than 5 minutes, screeched round to go back the other way.
By this time was getting to know Croydon rather well, and so had no problem at all in turning around and going back, for the fourth Blinking time.
How I loathed that Tunnel. Those bright twinkly lights seemed to be winking at me in some awful conspiracy.
After my fifth illegal driving manouevre, I pottered along at about ten miles an hour, causing some Irritation behind me, which I paid not even the slightest attention to, and saw, with some relief, a road that veered off the Bastard One I had been on for the last ten minutes.
And there was Eldest!
The Total Prat!
Slowed down, he got in and we sped off.
Was he pleased to see me? Did he thank me for my lengthy and somewhat Stressful detour? Did he smile gratefully?
'Bloody hell, Mum, Didn't you SEE me? What sort of an idiot would go past so many times?'
'This sort of idiot,' said I. Quite Curtly. 'And what sort of idiot gets into his mother's car after she has driven for Quite a Long time around Sodding Croydon, and says, What sort of Bloody Idiot would go past so many times?'
He had the grace to look a little Sheepish.
And kept bloody quiet on our journey to Ikea, to get stuff for his new house in Oxford.
And kept quiet as we went round the endless aisles of Ikea, even when we went the completely wrong way, and ended up at the beginning. Like you do.
And then began to go really quiet as we went back to his house to collect his stuff and go on to Oxford.
So I touched his forehead and he was burning hot.
Ill. Fever. Bright red in the face and weak as a kitten.
I brought him home, and made him Better.
Good food, plenty of water, plenty of sleep and Vitamin C.
He's better now and gone back to Oxford. Taken by me, in the pouring rain on the M25 on Friday.
'Could you just drive me back to Oxford?' he'd asked, with that Please Mum look.
'Course I will,' said I. 'But could YOU just....' and I listed a dictionary of requests.
Which he did.
Because while I love doing things for him, I love it when he does them back.
I will steer very clear of Croydon. I didn't really Enjoy the sights much.
And next time Eldest asks, Could you just... I will make double sure that it doesn't involve underpasses in Croydon, one way systems, highly illegal driving, or trams.