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“You got that address, George?”
“Yeah mum. Don’t fuss. ‘Hidden Studios’ it’s in the middle of nowhere. He’s sent me the GPS co-ordinates and a load of directions. But apparently it’s well signposted.”
He headed for the door leaving himself plenty of time for the journey.
The journey was alright to begin with but then he had to take a turning off the A-road onto a minor one. The directions mentioned a tight left. This turned out not to be an exaggeration and George had to reverse twice before he could get the back end of the van to follow the nose without dragging a hundred-year-old hawthorn with it. The scraping on the battered old red paintwork sounded like the screaming of a thousand boiling kittens. The previous road had benefitted from such luxuries as a dotted white line down the middle, and tarmac across its entire width. This road, that George was now on, was scarcely wider than the van. It was what George thought of as a ‘dual cabbage-way’ – two narrow strips of tarmac with a luxuriant growth of greenery down the broken-up centre. George decided he would be better off using satellite navigation. At least he would have a better idea of how long the remainder of the journey would take. After a few minutes of swearing and screaming, he accepted that he had about as much chance of getting a signal here as he did of meeting Marylin Monroe in the local minimart. He resorted to reading the written directions again.
‘Past the green gate, about half a mile, left onto track. Obscured by trees.’
“Obscured by trees? How am I supposed to see the bloody thing if it’s obscured by bloody trees?” he shouted at the piece of paper in an exercise in complete futility.
“Ah!” George said to himself in triumph as he spotted the turning. OK, he had missed it, but now he did at least know where it was and, astonishingly, it was indeed well signposted. Yes, it’s true that the beautifully hand painted sign saying ‘HIDDEN STUDIOS’ with a large arrow pointing down the dirt track was also obscured by trees and was only really visible properly once you had turned into the track itself, but hey-ho! All he had to do was find somewhere to turn around and he would be home and dry. George gunned the engine and sped off down the dual cabbage-way at a breakneck thirty miles-per-hour, pondering as he did so the amusing fact that the national speed limit applied here which meant that, in theory at least, he could legally reach sixty. He tried to imagine doing sixty, and wondered how long it would take emergency services to find his body and cut it from the wreckage. He passed a layby and dismissed the idea of trying to turn here.
Mimicking his old driving instructor he said, “Now Mr Pearce, I want you to make a turn in the road, using forward and reverse gears, without touching the kerb.”
“That last bit shouldn’t be a problem then,” he replied out loud to himself, “There’s no kerb within several miles of this bit of roa…” he slammed on the brakes and skidded to a halt as a BMW came around the blind corner and did likewise.
“Bollocks!” George slammed the old wreck into reverse and, with careful consideration of the wing mirrors, went backwards at almost the same speed as he went forwards, sliding his van neatly into the layby he had just passed.
As the BMW drove through the enormous gap he had left it, going slower than a laden donkey under a burning Mexican sky, the driver wound down his window just enough to shout, “Why don’t you bloody well look where you’re going?”
George, for his part, did the only thing he could do and shout “Fuck you; wanker!” at the retreating arse of the immaculate 5 series. Personalised number plate too. ‘MU51CAL, what a fucking knob-end’ George thought to himself as he resumed his search for a turning place.
Eventually, he came to a crossroads and after a simple, ‘Now Mr Pearce, I’d like you to reverse around that corner safely with due consideration for other road users’, he was heading in the right direction at last. Even without the luxury of sat-nav he realised he was going to be late. The clue was that he was still driving, and the clock showed it was already after the time he was meant to be there. ‘Ten minutes late isn’t really late’, he told himself; ‘It’s well within the acceptable window, unless you’re trying to catch a train, or something.’ That didn’t mean that George wasn’t stressed and angry though.
The music studio was a farm with a series of barns and other outbuildings that had been converted into studios. George wondered if perhaps the farmer was a closet rocker, or whether it was purely a practical decision driven by foot-and-mouth or whatever.
“You alroight boy?” George presumed this was the owner.
“This isn’t the easiest place to find!”
“It’s well signposted.” The farmer pointed out calmly.
“Only after you turn off the road, and you can already see it!
“Oi can’t very well put signs on other people’s land now can Oi?”
“Well at least one on the actual road would be helpful. Or cut back the trees maybe?”
“Nobody else ‘as any bother findin’ uz.”
“How would you know? There could be lost adventurers, gone feral on the moors still seeking the elusive treasures of the Hidden Studio, living in a house built from straw bales and snatching sheep in the night.”
“They’d get in trouble for that.” He was still speaking in the same infuriatingly calm monotone as though ordering groceries.
George stared at the farmer. George’s emotions were a roller coaster. He could be incandescent with rage one minute, and laughing until it hurt, the next. If George was on a roller coaster, this farmer was on a boating lake for under-fives with the oars shipped and swans drifting past.
“Everyone who comes here ‘as found it alright.”
“Yes, but that doesn’t include all the people who haven’t come here does it?
“You found it.”
“After nearly dying in the attempt.”
“Which studio d’you want anyway?
George was momentarily phased by being asked an actually useful question. “Five, it says here.”
“Over there, on the right. Park up next to that five series.”