There’s a soft, cool breeze blowing through my study window. So different from last weekend when me and my sis spend at least five hours on the road to and from Brighton; the motorways are heavy with traffic and the sun hot. Although the scenery’s fresh and green, it feels unbearably warm in the car and the ‘air conditioning’ seems to be emitting warm, metallic air.
We stop at Pease Pottage service station for poached salmon and salad sandwiches. It’s my turn to get the coffees in and as I wait in the queue at Costa for two cappuccinos, extra hot, one with chocolate sprinkled on the top, I notice a young woman who I vaguely recognise. She has distinctive, thick, beige-blonde hair although her eyes are dark. As she looks up, I realise she’s the girl who sometimes does my waxing in a salon in Notting Hill.
She doesn’t seem the least surprised to see me; perhaps she already noticed me and worked out who I am but it’s unnerving how completely unaffected she is. She explains that her boyfriend lives in Gatwick and they’re off for a day at the sea. She says she hasn’t seen me in a while and vaguely embarrassed, I mumble that I don’t need to visit that often to which she replies, ‘Yes, after a while the hairs stop growing…’
So far, so surreal.
To my relief the cheerful woman behind the counter announces that the coffees are ready and I can say goodbye and return to my sister.
We giggle hysterically at the weirdness of such an intimate and random conversation conducted in a service station car park situated off the M23.
Fragments of my life colliding and the simple pleasure of being able to tell my sis with whom I share a common language and sense of humour.
For a few moments we’re two silly girls back in our bedroom at home, whispering and laughing in the dark at scenarios only we find hilarious. Quieting down briefly when Dad appears in the doorway and entreats us to, ‘Go to sleep, girls.’
Now nearly fifty years later I look at my watch to see we’ve spent an entire hour in this unlikely location. Feigning the usual surprise at how quickly time’s passed yet knowing full well we’ve gossiped and laughed our way through a lifetime and literally anywhere will do for the joy of being together, we gather our rubbish, chuck it in the bin and rejoin the motorway.