I find myself close to tears on a number of occasions as I drive along the A90 from Edinburgh. It is fairly early on a Saturday morning and I have made the trip to the airport to drop my wife and youngest daughter off; the dog is in the back of the car. I have seen the early morning sun glinting off the early autumn foliage of the trees down the side of the motorway. I have seen soon- to-disappear mist pockets in the shaded parts of fields. I have seen the queues on the southbound carriageway of the Forth Road Bridge as a wide load is escorted across. I have seen the traffic increase as we approach “Old Reekie” and witnessed cars speeding trying to get to work as quickly as possible making up time during the short sections of carriageway before losing it again at the junctions. Mostly though, I have listened to BBC Radio 4 and in particular the Saturday Live programme.
I have pulled up at the paid drop-off section of the airport and the humans get out of the car. Whilst I move the dog from the back seat to the boot, my daughter and wife get their luggage. Dog secured safely, my daughter pushes passed me to give the dog one last long hug, and so I hug my wife goodbye. I turn my attention to my daughter who hugs me and seems to not want to let go. I briefly worry about the time limit I have at the drop off point before the charges escalate exponentially but dismiss the concern because I know I am nowhere near the fifteen minute limit. I close the boot door and turn round to wave goodbye but they are already moving off and I feel a pang of sadness; they are going to Rome and I am not. I find the pound coin I have place in my shorts before leaving the house, get into the car and drive to the barrier to deposit the money in the chute. The barrier opens and I drive out of the airport environs not sure whether to turn left to Edinburgh or right to the north; I choose to go to the South Gyle shopping centre and turn left.
I think it is good to take a break before making the return journey and decide that some patisseries from M&S would make a nice treat for breakfast. The news is on the radio and the stories I remember are Donald Trump being controversial again (apparently this is a bigger deal this time than all the other times) and only UK passport holders from the London School of Economics being able to advise the government on Brexit policy; both items I read about on the internet last night and both are worrying in their own ways. I make the effort to park in a spot that provides an easier exit if the traffic is busy which is nonsense at this time of day, but typical of my “making the best/most efficient choice” mind.
M&S is bigger than I remember and it takes me a few minutes to find the food hall, on my way I notice both the women’s and men’s sections are selling formed woollen hats and I wonder if my friend A would like one. The colours of the jumpers have gone autumnal. I walk through the men’s suit section and notice how skinny the cut if nowadays. I wistfully think I used to be able to buy clothes here when I was a teenager but the adult me is too misshapen, thighs too thick, waist too slim and chest too big; perhaps that is another reason I lost interest in looking smart, nothing standard fits.
I reach the food section and it is fairly empty. I have two things in mind, a Saturday Guardian and something nice for breakfast. I rarely shop in M&S nowadays and buying food here is expensive though good; I feel it still is a treat to be here. This food section is at least twice as large as our local one and I feel a bit overwhelmed. I remember that I will be eating alone tonight since our Japanese Visitor is going round to friends so perhaps I should get something for my evening meal as well. All this food but I cannot seem to generate any interest in it; I consider getting the £10 meal for two since there is plenty of options but I can’t be bothered choosing since nothing particularly stands out. I head for the bakery section instead. There is a fine selection of bread on offer, but I baulk at the price. The muffins look nice but they seem too sweet to me and I end up with old favourites of a pain aux raisin and an almond croissant. I think about this emptiness I feel. I am definitely sad but then leaving the family at the airport would tend to do that, but I wonder if this blankness is depression or perhaps the low period my GP warned me about when withdrawing from the anti-depressants; am I doing the right thing? I force myself to buy some food and as I walk back to the car I notice there is nothing British about my selection of Japanese, Spanish and Indian food; what would be the government line on that?
As I drive back home, the guests on Saturday Live accompany me on my journey. They are an interesting bunch and I enjoy listening to them, the musician turned author, the bookshop crawler, the adventurer/inventor and the silent film accompanist but I think it is the recorded guests that make most impact on me. To my delight George Takei is on talking about his relationship with his father. “Sulu” is a favourite of mine from my Star Trek days (do they ever come to an end?) but he has come to my attention more recently through social media; in any case, I think he has an amazing voice and storytelling manner that I could listen to all day. He talks about internment during the Second World War and how he found his experience difficult to reconcile with the democratic principles of his country. George came to understand the people’s democracy from his father who had suffered humiliation and real hardship under it. His father wanted him to be an architect but George wanted to act and after heated discussion George went on to study acting and graduated from his course. His father’s reaction to the graduation was to give him a Summer session at the Shakespeare Institute at Stratford upon Avon. George says he wouldn’t be the man he is today without his father; his father was his hero and as the tears in my eyes indicated, I could well see why.
DJ Trevor Nelson was talking about the music tracks he had inherited, and what he would pass on to his children. I think this is a lovely concept for a piece and really enjoyed his reminiscences about Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder; I wonder what I would choose? The track I inherited would either be “Diana” by Paul Anka, or “Witchita Lineman” by Glen Campbell which I associate with my dad; I think the latter is the probably the choice since I still love singing it. What track would I pass down to my kids though? The one that immediately pops into my mind is “The things that dreams are made of” by Human League because it encourages them to go out and explore the world and their dreams and is classic 80’s synth pop which again, I still love to sing along to.
Saturday Live is about people and their passions, I really must try to listen to it more often.