The Road North


The small collection of people milling around in the lay-by must have thought we were a happily married couple, and we were — just not to each other.

I asked him to go back.

You could do that in those days — go back. These days the roads are designed to make you keep going — no turning back.

I wanted an ice cream, and I knew there would be an ice cream truck and a van that dispensed cups of tea and mysterious sandwiches.

An old lady was selling flowers out of the back of an ancient van. She smiled at Joseph when he leaned down and touched the bunch with the red and yellow blooms. He didn’t ask me what I wanted, he chose for me, and he chose well.

The buying of flowers was a window into our relationship — we went well together, and I followed his lead.

Our time together isn’t a cliche — his wife definitely understands him, and I’m not bored with my marriage.

We could have been brother and sister except for him performing various carnal acts upon my person — all of which I approved of.

The flowers travelled most of the way north, from just outside London until a petrol station just before Edinburgh. I gave them to a woman who looked sad — cup of tea under her nose staring into space; better than letting them die in our hotel room. She smiled, and I smiled back. She didn’t ask me why and best of all Joseph didn’t either. He understood me. Do you know how rare it is to have someone understand you?

We had been exchanging conversation and bodily fluids for more than a year when he suggested that I come with him on a business trip to Scotland — a road trip. The gods were kind, and I was able to get away without creating a web of lies.

We were in the early throes of our adventure when I noticed the stopover, full of people and commerce.

Joseph groaned, but he found a gap in the highway and turned back. The day was warm, and our hearts were light enough to shut out our old lives so we could make the adventure real — something for us.

I changed my mind about the ice cream — it’s a woman’s right.

The flowers were enough.

The gentleman with the pipe wanted to know how long we had been married, “You seem so happy, it can’t have been long.”

I looked at Joseph for guidance. “A bit more than eight years,” which was correct in his case. For me, it was more like seven.

“How do you keep your marriage so fresh? All the people I know would never hold hands in public. Hell, most of the married people I know don’t like each other much.”

“We pretend we are married to someone else and we are off for a naughty weekend. It works like a charm,” said Joseph.

“But it’s Wednesday?” protested the pipe smoker.

“The other thing we do is not get hung up on details,” I said with a smile. “Also, we eat a lot of lettuce.”

As we walked away, the pipe smoker looked a bit confused.

“Lettuce?” said Joseph and we both burst out laughing.

The blinding light from the exploding flashbulb brought us back to Earth.

“Would you like to buy a photo of you and the lady?” said the man in the brown suit.

Sam the Photo Man, as he was known, usually worked the promenade at the seaside, but he was on his way to visit a friend and stopped to see why there were so many people out on this sunny day.

“How much?” said Joseph. I don’t remember his reply. I’m not concerned about money when I’m with Joseph.

They agreed on a price, and the photographer took one more posed shot — just to be sure.

“Make sure that the first shot is included,” said Joseph. Sam, the Photo Man, was true to his word and the photographs were delivered to Joseph’s office a little over a week later. He made a copy for me, and I keep it in my underwear drawer.

We climbed back into his shiny new Rover, “I’ll be driving a Jag next year if this trip goes well.”

The Rover was smooth and roomy, and we stopped three times on our journey and made love on the back seat. I sat on his lap with my skirt pulled up and my knickers on the seat next to us.

Sex with Joseph was never frantic. Our lovemaking was warm, slow and sensuous. The part of Joseph that was inside me felt like it was designed primarily for me — maybe it was. Perhaps the angels assembled him with me in mind. They did a spectacular job.

My head kept banging on the roof of the car as I arched my back. We laughed every time I bumped it, and I could feel him pulse inside me as he laughed.

The business part of our trip went well, and Joseph impressed his bosses. He impressed me as well — several times.

Until this trip, our sexual relationship had been a case of ‘grab it where you can’, but this trip gave us a chance to get to know each other away from the pressures of our ‘other life’.

I’m not sure how long our relationship will last, but I’m visualising telling my grandchildren about the man I had an affair with that continued for several decades.

“How did you manage to keep it a secret grandma?” my impressed granddaughter will ask.

“Because no one suspected us. We looked more like brother and sister than adulterous lovers — and we ate a lot of lettuce.”