The Pinkerton Road
The Doner Kebab is arguably the only Middle Eastern weapon of mass destruction that has been aimed at the West with any real threat or purpose. Known affectionately as ‘getting a kebab’, it has cost the British taxpayer millions in lost working days since its unspectacular arrival in London during the glory days of 1966. Sadly it has somehow stood the test of time and outlived those other colossal icons of that year, Bobby Moore and Jimi Hendrix. The result is a multitude of outlet styles for this staple food source of the pissed and the stoned. Ones that stretch from Istanbul to Islington and everywhere else in between.
The Pinkerton Road has one such outlet. A mid-way stopping point for the many lorry drivers that ply their trade along its muscular route from the south coast to London. A long exit on the north-bound side of the road provides a safe place to pull off and drop down onto the gently ambling road that was once the preserve of the horse-drawn carriages travelling from the coast to London. There are long laybys on either side of the old road that cater for up to a dozen Lorries. It was a place to sleep, eat and meet up with other knights of the road – or prats of the road depending on whether you’ve recently sat behind two juggernauts blocking both lanes of a dual carriageway that are locked in an overtaking manoeuvre akin to a slug race. But it was a place to catch up with like-minded people and mull over the days travel; or just an opportunity to vent frustrations about the attitude of today’s young people, women and the price of diesel. Alongside the tea and burgers, the overnight stop, known as Horseshoe Common, also offers the weary traveller a taste of the Middle East in the form of the ubiquitous Doner Kebab.
It was also a place once occupied by the Temple of Alverium. A temple that would no longer exist two thousand years later and the space it once occupied would be gazed at with indifference by a bloke called Barry eating the hottest kebab this side of the River Thames while he grappled with the continued difficulty of understanding even the basic concept of black holes in space. But to be fair to Barry, the universe is a colossal subject to consider. It would also probably be fair to say that despite the knowledgeable and impassioned explanations by Messrs Cox and Hawkin, the other few billion of us still struggle with it whether we have watched a hundred programmes on the subject or just one. This is not a criticism of delivery but merely the stark reality of our inability to absorb any further detail after the first ten minutes. If Steven said that black holes were a direct result of overheating the last block of butter in a microwave, then we would believe it even if we couldn’t understand the logic. Because that’s how life works. We all desperately crave the answer to everything and if someone far cleverer than us says they know, then, we’ll have some of it until proved otherwise.
It’s doubtful if anyone knows the exact amount of bicycles that there are in Beijing but nine million sounds plausible enough for now. It’s really a matter of your own belief mixed with your own selfish needs. And the very question of existence itself appears to boil down to two choices as far as anyone can make out. For now. You either have a super Creationist Entity or you have a Big Bang. It’s entirely up to you. Ya pays ya money, ya takes ya choice. They are two sides of the same coin. And it’s equally possible to have an experience that makes you decide on your preference for one side or the other as it is to making you change sides mid-game. And it would be just as easy to argue that the Creationist created Big Bang in order to aid evolution. But it’s highly unlikely that we’ll get up one day soon and turn on the TV to find it all sorted out. A day when we can go bed and finally relax without wondering ‘What’s it all about Margaret?’ As much as we love Messrs Cox and Hawkin, it’s still a big ask to expect us to believe that “stuff” is only held together by a mixture of electromagnetism and sub-atomic atoms known as quarks without worrying that someone will switch off the electricity. Then what?
But one thread of logic is plausible if we believe Big Bang. It stands to reason that everything is connected; minerals, plants and animals – and therefore people. The world as we know it all evolved from the same rack of ingredients and nothing can be truly new; merely rearranged into a new dish from a vast array of pick n mix components. Everything else seems far too complicated for the rest of us mere mortals to understand and so it comes back to down to Evolution or Creation? Gods or monkeys? Joseph & Mary or Cox & Hawkin? But whatever you happen to believe they all need paying and come with a caveat. Buyer beware.
And what of that other world? The Supernatural. Equally contentious and equally reliant on belief but undoubtedly a hundred times more exciting than trying to figure out the meaning of life, the universe and everything. It could be described as an interesting side dish to the main meal. It could equally be described as bollocks. But…sometimes…every now and then…we have an experience. Something that our scientists and scholars could probably deconstruct and convince us on a case-by-case basis that it was just a coincidence. A trick of the mind. A clever trick of the conjurer. All very interesting but hardly supernatural. And that’s exactly what some people want you to think. So life goes on and we all entertain ourselves with ghost stories and horror films whatever our own personal belief is. But all of us leave the door ever so slightly ajar. The open mind. Just a fraction.
Because we’ve all had those little moments. Even if we haven’t told anyone else about them. Animal instinct, as we sometimes refer to it. Something is not right. We know something even if we don’t know what that something actually is. And then we forget about it and get back on with our everyday day lives. Days that are unremarkable and mundane for most of us. The quiet majority. When we get up in the morning, we think we know what the day has in store for us. Even if we don’t know exactly how the day will evolve, the events don’t usually alter the course of our life on the whole. But every day an event does happen to someone, somewhere, and their life is changed forever. Sometimes we meet people and fall in love. Or win some serious money. Or maybe fall off the back of a tandem being steered by someone high on drugs that we had met just an hour before and who had convinced us, in this short period, that stealing a tandem would attract unprecedented levels of interest from students of the opposite sex but actually ended in a life-threatening incident in the River Thames.
This can be down to a chance conversation or just a change in routine that brought about an unexpected consequence or meeting.
And very occasionally we tell someone a lie. And we all know that muddying the truth can sometimes have a slightly awkward outcome such as war with Iraq or the downfall of a president. Or it could be considered entertaining as yet another revered celebrity claims ‘I never touched him M’Lud.’ However, some lies are quite innocent and were never intended to cause trouble or hurt. Lies such as “I think it’s great that someone of your age has the confidence to wear a pair of leather trousers with a cropped top. Especially with those stretch marks. Most men wouldn’t have the nerve.”
And it was just such a lie that culminated in a journey that would eventually change everything we had ever come to believe about animals, men and the world in which we live together. The events that culminated in this final odyssey began on a small farmstead on the outskirts of a market town in North Hampshire…