I live near a motorway service station, one that has – contrary to expectation – an excellent reputation and the framed certificates to prove it. We local yokels take it for granted that it will be open 24/7 apart from Christmas and New Year, and it does offer bizarre sights that add to the interest of our peaceful, cheery (insert platitudinous adjectives here) rural lives.
A trip across the petrol forecourt, specially on weekend evenings, is notable for scantily clad personages (I really can’t call them Ladies) wearing pink bunny rabbit ears, fishnet tights and cottonpuff tails as they stagger from coach to loos and back. My daughter tells me they are probably en route to Blackpool or Morecambe for a hen party. I feel sorry for poor Morecambe, but at least they won’t be staying here to scream their drunken obscenities – and that’s just on the outward journey.
One evening last year, when I was driving peacefully homeward past the service exit, I encountered a kilted bag-piper heel-and-toeing along the grass verge with his pipe and drones in full voice. Once I’d shaken myself and decided it wasn’t an apparition, I approved his choice of rehearsal room – the open air. Mind, it was possible that his fellow passengers (or his employers) had forced him to relocate. Confinement indoors with a set crying come-to-battle is a form of torture that even the deafened disco generation might find it hard to tolerate. Bagpipes are outdoor instruments. (Or should that be, The bagpipe IS an outdoor instrument? Someone please tell me.)
The arrival of winter was marked again this year by the lady and gent who walk a team of huskies. They always appear to be northbound, but I could just have missed their return trips. Snow sometimes follows, though I wouldn’t dare to assert that there is any connection. And I’ve never seen them wearing anything red or furry.