Black Hole

There is a black hole in our house. Random things just go missing. Mostly toys, or the parts of toys that, when they go missing, render what's left, utterly useless. At least one book has fallen in too, just sitting on the sofa one minute, gone without a trace the next. No one has a clue where they are. Or at least, no one is admitting it. It's driving me crazy. I have searched every inch of the girls' bedroom and all of the 'nook and cranny' type spaces in the house. I've upended toy baskets and searched through clothes piles. I've peered behind radiators and pulled out bookshelves from against the wall. I've even shone a torch down into the dark hole in the floor of our linen cupboard to no avail. (There is, however, a plastic zebra and a piece of toy train track down there)

Where could they be?? They can't just disappear!!!

Our house is small and therefore there are a finite amount of places for things to go, we gutted and renovated this place and I know every inch of it like the back of my hand, yet somehow there is still a place I do not know about. A place somebody else does know about - likely someone small - but they're not talking. And the missing things haunt me.

I recently recognised another black hole in my life. A black hole that I have carried around with me since I was 12 years old. It had been with me so long that I had become almost blind to it.

Every now and then, when my bus is late and I'm being rained on I catch a glimpse of the black hole in my peripheral vision, a couple of weeks ago, for no particular reason, I did a fairly depressing sum on my bus journey home and the black hole finally came into sharp focus. I hadn't had a particularly bad day, my bus wasn't late and I hadn't been rained on, so I'm not exactly sure why I added it up, but I did. And I stared at the final tally in disbelief- it was a huge, frightening, black hole and it has swallowed up much more valuable things than toys and books.

I started commuting to secondary school by bus when I was 12. An hour each way at that time. I did it for 6 years. I then went on to commute to university, by train, an hour each way for 4 years. Then I spent a year faffing around before getting a job in 2001 in the city, where I have worked since and have spent roughly 2 hours a day, five days a week, for most of this time travelling to and from. Taking slight adjustments into consideration (two years living two hours away from the city and 7 months maternity leave), I reckon that roughly a year and a half of my life has been swallowed up by public transport.


That is a LOT of time. It is half the amount of time my children have been on the planet for goodness sake! My niece Elsie hasn't even been here that long yet, and it feels like she's always been here!

I know many, many, many, many, many, many people commute. I know that it's not entirely dead time. That a bus or a train is not a vacuum where nothing can happen. I know that there are ways to utilise this time, and I do to a certain extent. I have read books, drank countless travel-mugs of tea, conversed on the phone (and in school days in person) - albeit guardedly- with friends, written to do lists, caught up with current affairs and your lovely blog, people-watched, listened to music, nodded off to sleep, eaten snacks, planned parties and probably a million other things during these hours...

...I have also had countless bouts of travel sickness and picked up many a cough and cold. I have encountered lunatics and miscreants too numerous to mention, dodged many a sweaty armpit, regularly inhaled second hand weed-fumes and also... to reiterate... I have spent a YEAR AND A HALF of my one precious life on the bloody bus!

Stop the world I wanna get off!

So I am.

I am getting off the bus.

For a while at least.

I have applied successfully for 18 weeks Parental Leave from the day-job. It will start in June and see me all through the Summer and well into Autumn. It will give me time to be a stay-at-home mum - something I have not been since the girls were 7-months old. It will give me time to slow down and spend some time at their pace. In theory, it will give me time to get out into nature more, craft more, relax more, spend more time with friends and family. It will enable me to be there with my children as they transition from home to preschool.

It wont give me back the time I feel I have lost, but it will be a positive change.

Unfortunately it is unpaid leave, so we will be flat broke for the duration, but I feel like it will be so, so worth it.

I can't wait!

P.S. I read this article recently about where Young Adult's author Phil Earle writes...(on London's X68 Bus). He describes his 'bus time' thus:

"... bus time, that magical, beautiful, otherwise dead hour each way to the office is all mine. It belongs to the characters and the story I'm writing, and I unreservedly love it."

Now I feel like I should have something better to show for all that time I spend commuting where are my three cool novels for young adults? Where is that one children's book I keep thinking I will one day write? ... or even that partially written, probably awful, novel...

... maybe when I get back to work, I'll bear it in mind...


  1. oh goodness I can relate - my commute is by car for the last few years but nevertheless a black hole, especially if I'm driving when my husband is away. I can't even go online those days or text into radio stations...

  2. @OfficeMum - Oh I think driving is even tougher! The bus is tough enough but at least there's a bus lane - bumper to bumper traffic drives me potty.... do you know, in all my time commuting, I don't think I've ever text into a radio station - must put it on the to do list ;)


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