I thought as much. A quick google has revealed that T S Eliot did not have children. Only a man with no children could come up with the line ‘I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.’ Anyone with children knows you measure out your life in car parks.
By my rough calculation, in the past fifteen years I’ve spent three whole months of my life waiting in car parks for my boys to finish school/rugby practice/Cadets/music rehearsals/eating pizza/activities of a social nature (often related to girls).
Am I sorry? Has my vehicular entrapment been a matter of regret? Not a bit of it. My relationship with car parks has grown as I have grown, changed as I have changed.
Here is a list of things I did in car parks as a young woman:
1) Had sex. Mainly in my Fiat Panda (the back seat folded down – the original #parentfail ). Mainly in the Fountain’s Head car park. By the bottle banks.
2) Got changed. Sometimes, a good night out leaked into a working day.
3) Sobered up very slowly. Sometimes, a good night out made a working day impossible and a return to the family home imprudent.
4) Slept. I have lost count of the car parks I have slept in, largely outside train stations, ferry terminals and airports. Sleeping in these car parks is something only young people do. As you get older the theory is you can afford a cheap hotel if you have an early flight or crossing. Also, as you get older, the idea of subjecting your slipped disc to six hours in the U Bend position grows insupportable. Sleeping in a car is the closest you’ll ever get to a night in a Filipino jail (we hope).
Now I am officially in Executive Youth, the car park has become a sanctuary. Here is a list of things I do these days in car parks:
1) Listen to The Archers. This is something I started doing ironically. The irony lasted about three episodes and now I’m completely addicted. There is almost nothing I can’t tell you about Brian Aldridge’s affairs, Sheep Scab and the handbell sessions at Grey Gables.
2) Conduct business. Thanks to the mobile phone, a car park can be an office space too. Obviously there are car parks more conducive to the pursuit of work goals than others. Good mobile signal is essential if you are to convince your clients that you are actually at work, and you will need to keep the car windows closed to disguise the true nature of your environs. My glove box features a comprehensive range of stationery since the man who tunes my car told me it’s inappropriate to scrawl names and addresses and invoiced amounts in the service book.
3) Nap. Napping in car parks is different to sleeping in car parks. Napping is what you do when you’ve had a long lunch with the girls, perhaps featuring a glass of wine, and discover it’s jolly nearly time to pick up your sons. The important thing here is to park away from the glare of publicity. Round the back of the sports centre is good.
4) Fantasise. In a busy life juggling a lot of part-time, poorly paid jobs, the time I spend in my car affords me the chance to live a parallel life. I am still having sex in car parks, only this time it’s with Dave Bartram from Showaddywaddy (but as he was then, with the cheekbones) and Ken the landlord can’t spot us from his upstairs bathroom window.
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, after-darks,
I have measured out my life in free, all day, pay’n’display, long stay, short stay, car parks..
And just for good measure, yes. I wrote this in a car park.