1st February 2007

Someone stopped to ask me directions the other day and this never happens to me without it reminding me off my Dad, bless him.
After he had retired he used to spend at least an hour a day, when the weather was fine, on the bench at the end of the street on which he lived. This street formed a T junction with the main road into town, about half a mile distant.  Very often lorry drivers, aware that they were about to come into town, would stop, wind down their windows and ask my dad if he knew where such and such a factory or such and such a place was. No matter what the question was, Dad’s reply was always the same. “You’re miles out of your way. Turn round, go back up to the traffic lights, turn left, carry on, turn right again at the White Lion, next on the left and you’re there. If you’ve gone for a mile and you haven’t seen the White Lion you’ve passed it.”
Now I’ve know why of knowing how many times the lorry drivers turned their lorries round looking for the White Hart or how long they spent looking for it, but they could still be looking to this day without finding it because there isn’t a pub called the White Lion on that road. There’s a Red Lion, and, a hundred yards farther on, a White Rose, but no White Lion.
Probably the lorry driver would think that my dad, being old, was probably a bit confused and had meant the Red Lion or the White Rose, and had tried them both. Turning right at the Red Lion would have brought them to a dead end three miles up the road, which would have got them cursing, but not as much as when they had turned right at the White Rose, which would have eventually led them, after about six miles of a gradually narrowing road, eventually becoming a track, to a pig farm.
By the time someone had put the driver right and he again passed the spot where my dad gave them directions my dad would be long gone. According to him, when I once asked him about this, only one driver had found him still sat on the bench when he had passed for the second time. The conversation had gone like this –
DRIVER: I thought you told me that Birch Vale Printworks was back the way I came and right at the White Lion!”
DAD: “Is that Birch Vale with a B?”
DRIVER: “Yes.”
DAD: Oh, I thought you meant Birch Vale with a Z. Birch Vale with a B is straight on. You can’t miss it.”

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