My White Van Man Day: An Epic Journey of Delivery

Ever wondered what it would be like to be totally independent, the cowboy of the A-roads, to be able to cram a whole family of gypsies in your rear end?

Well, this week I got the chance. For 24 hours only, I was transformed into White Van Man as I undertook an epic Journey of Delivery from London to Sheffield to Immingham to Norwich to London.

To begin with, I was apprehensive about how I would handle my newfound girth, and worried about the lack of an inside mirror. But, to tell you the truth, she went like a dream, and in no time at all I was cutting up cyclists, pulling Gs off roundabouts, and mowing down pedestrians that didn’t know their right of way. They’ll never know now, bless’em.

What a motor! The competition stood no chance. They were still standing while I was a distant puff on the horizon. The fuel consumption was impressive too. She got through 93 litres of diesel for the whole trip. That’s some appetite.

I floored it down the M40, speeding up to 90 mph whenever I passed a speed camera. They don’t always seem to work at 80, and I wanted to make sure they caught me at my best. Which gave me a brilliant idea—why not link the speed camera network up to Facebook? Every time you get flashed, the photo is immediately posted to your profile, along with date and speed. Somebody could develop an ap. That way, all your friends can see how fast you are, and when you tell them about the time you did 110 going past Watford Gap, you’ll have the evidence to prove it. Genius!

Breakfast was a bacon butty at a roadside caf. Fuelled up on meat, I was raring to go, and put in a star performance, completing the second leg of my journey from Sheffield to Immingham in an hour and a half.

The warehouse was a sight to behold. There were pallets loaded with monster tyres, Typhoo tea, and boxes of salt’n’vinegar crisps piled as high as I can reach. And the forklift truck drivers whizzing about at breakneck speed. You’ve got to admire their skill. These guys can pull a ton and turn on a tuppence. Maybe that’s the life for me, I started to wonder, but was called back to the van, which was blocking operations in the container yard.

Scunthorpe–Grimsby. I’ve one word for it—industrial. Not in a bad way, mind you. The skyline was filled with chimneys and pipes twisting about loop-the-loop like the Fulham water slides. I was awestruck and was brought to several times by the shudder of my wheels straying over the white line.

‘Who needs trees’, I thought, ‘when you’ve got chimneys like that?’. If ever proof was needed that Man has left Nature well and truly stuck in the slow lane, that’s it. I mean, I passed some mincing wind turbines earlier, but they’re just imitation trees, waving their blades about like they think they’re branches blowing in the wind. And they kill birds. Chimneys don’t.

The road down to Spalding and across to Norwich took me through some lovely countryside. It’s mostly single lane, so if you don’t pull a few fast ones you get stuck behind some nutter doing 40. But even so, it’s 50 or 60 mph most of the way. I just rolled down the window and cruised along with some banging choons on the blower.

With only the last stretch of my journey to go, I had 4 hours to get from Norwich to London. I legged it down the M11, but of course there was heavy traffic on the M25 in a clockwise direction and we crawled over the Dartford bridge at a snail’s pace. Then another hold up, which mysteriously vanished the moment we’d passed an accident in the opposite direction. What a knock up! But I don’t get it—why does an incident one side of the barrier cause the traffic to grind to a virtual halt for several miles going the other way? It’s not logical.

By this time I was sweating bucketloads, thinking I wasn’t going to make it back in time for 6pm. I dropped off the boxes—literally, in the driveway—then dashed over to the hire place, making it back with just 4 minutes to go. In the nick of time.

Without my van now, I feel somehow incomplete. It’s back to being an androgynous pedestrian or cissy-boy cyclist. With my white van, I felt like a Man. And it teaches you respect. When you’re towering over other motorists, you know you can push them about, but with that comes responsibility. You realise there’s a pecking order too. It takes skill to handle a load, and while I proved myself with a long wheelbase, you’ve got to hand it to the guys in the lorries. I was just a day tripper; for them, it’s a way of life. They’re the kings of the road.

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