On the road with Haversnatch

winter drivingMy new travelling companion slammed the door of the car behind him. Two men in their fifties having just exerted themselves, in the coldest winter we’ve had in years, soon had the wind-shield and windows steamed up with breathless exhaustion. As we pulled out and carried along the road, the heating kicked in and the windows defogged. Catching our breath, my travelling companion shuffled in his seat and gave me a grateful nod and let out a huge sigh. With one hand on the wheel, my hand reached out and flipped on the radio – strong Germanic sounding classical music piped through the speakers in the door.

“Ah, the Goldberg variations. Johann Sebastian Bach. This takes me back to my youth, my father loved this song.”

As men grow older, there can be a tendency for eccentricity to take hold. I long ago gave in to these temptations. Conversations can start and shift based on the slightest of points, and no tangent seems outlandish. The need to guard one’s own opinions and reservations, for the preservation of a serious out-ward appearance, dissipates along with the bullish masculinity of youth. This is why two perfect strangers, with only their age and gender in common, can launch in to a discussion of genealogy and family fortunes by way of Bach.jag

“My father was a travelling sales man, just like his father and his grand-father. My great-grand-father, who I never met, said that this wasn’t always the way. He claimed, or so my grand-father said, that there was a family treasure buried in Scotland somewhere. Haversnatch’s Hoard, that’s what he called it. I’m a travelling salesman by trade, but for the last few years I’ve been using it as a cover, for my hunt for the Hoard.”

Bach had given way to Mozart, and the smooth hum of the engine softly masked the wild gusts of wind that buffeted the Jag, whilst it sped up the icy motorway. I yawned silently, it was getting close to half one in the morning and I needed some sleep. Although it had been interesting listening to Haversnatch’s story, something compelled me to not share my own mystery and purpose for driving north. A service station and motel presented itself and I suggested stopping for the night. Haversnatch offered me a nightcap for my troubles but I declined, three whiskeys had gotten me three hundred miles north of London, I wouldn’t like to guess where one more would take me.


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