2 mph: finding peace in your life, slow down the pace...

Earlier in the year, I visited an exhibition of ‘movement art’ at the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown, mid-Wales, which was displaying a small basket weave trailer containing a stuffed goose and a netbook playing a clip of a young bearded man in shorts pulling the self-same trailer through corn fields and along country lanes from Somerset to London. A long slow journey. This exhibit ‘informatively’ entitled ‘2 mph’ was presented alongside a giant gilded megaphone, fairy-lit hiking boots and 4 plywood columns sporting LCDs showing the heads of various people as they walked.

More recently, an approaching birthday demanded a trip to nearby Royal Leamington Spa and I planned to maximise the journey with a combination of activities. Swimming, Argos, charity shop foray, Holland and Barrett. To be back no later than 3.30pm for the school pick up.

I set off in the car, calm and optimistic, despite an itinerary guaranteed to bring forth shouts of ‘get a MOVE on’ at other less time-constrained drivers, pootling around the market town I call home.

The temporary traffic lights that had materialised overnight at the bottom of the Leamington Road drew only a quiet ‘come onnnn’ from my lips. But the sight of the big yellow diversion signs two turns before the road to the swimming pool had me chewing my bottom lip and rolling my eyes. The ‘diversion’ seemed rather to be a tourist trail around Leamington Spa, having taken us down The Parade (elegant Regency buildings), alongside Jefferson Gardens (formal planting and extravagant fountains) and past the colonnade of the Pump Rooms shrouding the lukewarm waters (from which the Spa suffix stems) before diving us into a warren of less elegant back streets replete with kebab shops and laundrettes. Having encircled the whole town I approach the pool from the opposite direction now driving mostly in second gear and revving the engine impatiently at each junction in a bid to save a vital few seconds. I let out a sigh of relief as I drive up the leafy avenue to the sports centre.

‘Pool closed today,’ a sign attached to a nearby lamp post announces.

I ignore it. Yesterday’s, I convince myself.

‘Pool closed. Masters Gala,’ another sign declares smugly at the entrance to the car park.

My stomach flips and so do I.

“You have GOT to be JOKING,” I shout frustratedly at the windscreen, braking erratically in the car park entrance.

As I sit frozen in disbelief a short queue of cars starts to form behind me.

“Do you know where you’re going dear?” taps a white haired sinewy lady in a tracksuit on my window.

“It’s shut,” I whimper pathetically staring up at her as if she could single handedly call off the Masters Gala and allow me and my child to swim.

“Yes,” she smiles, “it’s the Masters Gala today.”

No-one in the queue behind me, now 5 cars full of front crawl veterans, beeps their horn. The ‘Masters Advocate’ leaves me and goes to explain the hold up to the other drivers. As I perform a seven point turn with gritted teeth and my infant passenger shouting ‘wanna go swimming, wanna go swimming’, no-one shouts ‘come on, come onnnnnn’. And as I drive past the queue, the silver haired mer-people give me sympathetic glances.

‘2 mph’ floats unbidden into my mind. Any faster and you leave the soul running to catch the body up.

Read last month's post: monkey business

Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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