Tim Dowling: I’m on a highway to nowhere – and have been since I used to be about 5 | Family

I am driving again from Portsmouth late at evening, after the band’s final gig of the spring tour. According to my cellphone I’m on the quickest route, regardless of a bit of the A3 being closed someplace up forward.

My cellphone pings: a sooner route has turn into out there. Without figuring out what it’s going to entail, I settle for.

After a number of miles the highway closes down from two lanes to 1, after which a collection of tightly ranked cones pushes all site visitors on to an exit ramp – the top of the road. At the approaching roundabout all of the vehicles forward of me flip left, however I’m directed to go straight over by my cellphone. This, I feel, will likely be that sooner route I’ve heard about.

In truth this takes me straight again on to the A3. None of the vehicles behind me follows. When I merge on to the twin carriageway, I discover myself completely alone.

At first that is thrilling, however once I don’t see a single different automotive for 3 miles, I start to get a bit nervous. Is it potential that I’ve unintentionally pushed on to the closed part of the A3? I is perhaps headed for a bricked-up tunnel, or a lacking bridge.

An exit comes up, however I don’t take it. My cellphone continues to be saying: press forward. The highway is desolate, and presumably near working out beneath my wheels. Will I’ve to smash via a barrier on the far finish? How a lot bother will I be in?

I awake with a jolt; daylight is streaming via the home windows.

“Whoa,” I say.

“Do you know that you shout and twitch when you sleep?” my spouse says, sitting up to take a look at me.

“Yeah,” I say, making an attempt to find out the place the highway house ended and the nightmare started.

“It’s annoying,” my spouse says, rolling over.

“Sorry,” I say. I stand up and go downstairs. After making espresso I sit and watch because the cat tries to entice a fly in opposition to the window. I’ve a reminiscence of driving via darkish woods and abandoned automotive parks looking for a manner house, but additionally of being diverted again off the A3 simply south of Guildford. One appears as actual as the opposite.

The cat bats the fly to the ground, pounces on it and eats it, crunching the wings in its enamel.

“Yeesh,” I say, getting as much as the feed the cat. I’ve been having recurring driving nightmares since earlier than I might drive: a five-year-old standing on the seat behind the wheel of a rolling car, watching catastrophe unfold.

As quickly because the cat empties its bowl it walks over to the cabinet the place the cat meals is stored and sits down.

“Miaow,” it says.

“You just ate,” I say. “Have another fly.”

“Miaow,” it says.

“The cat before you could do voices,” I say. “Different accents, different names.”

“Miaow,” says the cat, weakly.

“He made an effort, is what I’m saying.” The cat seems on the ground.

“Miaow,” it says.

“It’s not about who is the better cat,” I say. “Lucky for you.”

When I bought older the driving nightmares had been all the time about getting misplaced: an unfamiliar part of downtown the place the streets folded in on themselves. Much later, after I bought my licence, I used to go on the lookout for the spot, out by the ice manufacturing facility; the intersection the place you flip left as an alternative of proper and the whole lot you recognize disappears. The final time I used to be house the entire neighbourhood had vanished. The nightmare model is now the one one I keep in mind.

“Miaow,” the cat says.

“Fine,” I say, getting up and feeding it once more. I make one other espresso. The low morning solar casts a pale gentle throughout the desk, illuminating mud and crumbs. My spouse is available in.

“How was the gig?” she says, peering into the sink.

“Fine,” I say. “I was amazing.”

“What time did you get home?” she says.

“Dunno,” I say. “Sometime after one. There was this whole mysterious section of the A3 where I thought … ”

“Has this cat been fed?” she says.

“Oh yes,” I say.

“Miaow,” the cat says.

“He’s lying,” I say.

“I’ve made an appointment for the dump at 10.30,” my spouse says.

“The faraway dump?” I say. “Exciting.”

“Yes,” she says. “But the thing is, I’ve now got a meeting at 10, so you’ll have to go by yourself.”

“Oh,” I say, considering: what might presumably go mistaken?

Join Coco Khan, Tim Dowling and different Guardian writers for an entertaining look behind the scenes of the Saturday journal on 29 June at 8pm. Book an occasion ticket right here

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