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Smallville: A Week On The Road

Just one visit to the refurbished local library – and Peter B Farrell embarks upon a life-changing read. Ahead lie an encounter with Electra Glide In Blue, and dreams of the open highways of Arizona.

The local Library had finally reopened after moving to new premises. Brightly lit, it was now on two floors and housed an extensive DVD and video collection as well as offering increased internet access.

A self-service computerised system of issues and returns had also been introduced. The staff released, from the boring task of stamping books, were now fully engaged in explaining the ‘new self-service computerised system of issues and returns’ to baffled pensioners.

Margaret, my wife, was soon scouring the crime shelves while I sought self improvement.

“You’ve put the bar-code the wrong way round, follow the instructions on the screen.“

“Try again, the book was upside down.”

“No, you have just returned a book you haven‘t borrowed yet.”

“You need to wait while it prints a receipt.“

“No, you need to start again.” The assistant was very patient and - as her sash explained - was here to help.

“...ksake, there’s a much better way, have you tried making us queue up while you scan the books In and Out?” I nearly shouted, but instead - “Thanks very much, certainly brighter, all the pot-plants, very nice.”

After this experience, my selection of Change Your Life In A Week seemed fitting, and I decided to get on with the life-changing as soon as possible. A couple of days in and I was still trying to visualise myself in a situation where I would really like to be, one of the first mental exercises; unfortunately I hadn’t quite decided exactly what this image should be.

One evening, later in the week I was browsing through the TV listings and saw a film due for transmission after midnight.

“At last, something worth recording.“ I had spotted a particular film from the 70s which in its time had achieved cult status.

“That usually means it’s rubbish; either bums and boobs or exploding buildings.” Margaret had a different outlook on the arts. Sherlock Holmes or Poirot were top of her list and a cult was something to do with Charles Manson.

“No, it’s more to do with the wide open spaces, the American Mid-West;” I explained. Electra Glide In Blue was an epic about the life and violent death of a motorcycle ‘cop’. I could visualise the stunning scenery and driving at speed along the empty highways.

The following evening I eagerly loaded the recording and sat back in anticipation; Margaret decided to give it five minutes before returning to Agatha Christie. The colour and scenery of what I took to be Arizona was a backdrop to the explosive action, but the small gesticulating figure at bottom right of the screen had no part in the original screenplay.

“It’s for deaf people, he’s using sign language.” Margaret’s observation before rejoining Hercule.

I was totally distracted and found it hard to take my eyes off the interloper. The least he could have done was to dress for the part and put on motorcycle leathers and a Stetson. Disappointed, I would never complain of sub-titles again.

I was well into the second week of life-changing and discovering my authentic self when the time came to take the car for a major overhaul to the auto-dealers in the neighbouring town of Fakenham. This car has served me well for the past six years, and I hoped for another couple of years before they sold me another.

Armed with my copy of the life-changing book just in case I had a long wait, I deposited the car and spent the morning wandering round the market- stalls and shops. A local book shop doubled as a cafe and I spent a pleasant hour drinking coffee and reading up on the next set of visualisation exercises. I pictured myself being congratulated on having the same model of car for such a long time.

“Amazing condition sir, see you next year.”

Time to go, and it was now raining heavily. I downed the coffee and made my way to the auto-dealers and sat in the reception area, strategically placed amid the latest gleaming turbo-charged models.

“All done sir, as you can see from the work sheet. There was corrosion in the sills and the pistons are showing signs of wear. You’ll also need a new exhaust system and two new tyres in about three months. If you are thinking about changing the car I am sure our sales staff would help. Sam Thompson, second office on the right You could have a quick word while your car is being washed.

I had no intention of changing the car just yet but I would go through the motions and see what I was missing.

“Hi, Sam Thompson...” The long legged brunette in her mid-twenties introduced herself and singled out a particular model on the forecourt.

“Low mileage in Blade Silver, ABS braking, air conditioning, power steering, CD/radio, electric windows, only £5495, take the wheel...“

Sam slid into the passenger seat and flicked on the stereo.
"I get my kicks on Route 66..." Nat Cole at his best.

The gloom lifted, the sun blazed down and a ribbon of empty highway led into the far distance. I put on the Raybans and checked the mirror for any sign of the motorcycle ‘cop’. We should be in Flagstaff before nightfall…

* *
‘No, you need to touch the screen and wait.”

“Now put the book face down, select renewal and wait for the ticket.”

“There it’s simple, you have now reserved Change Your Life In A Week for a further three weeks.”

I had made progress with programming my self image. Perhaps visualising methods of payment would be in the later chapters.”


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