(or the modern tortoise and the hare)
Two families decide to leave Leicester for the weekend to go to Skegness.
They plan on eating some fish and chips, playing the slots and paddling in some murky water, with a shared aim of playing a game of cricket on the beach. This is a tale set in the near future when we can do these things again.
We’ll call one family the Brands and we’ll call one the Tacticals.
It’s a Friday afternoon. They want to get there as soon as possible to enjoy the grey summer skies.
The Tacticals whack some petrol in the car and storm off up the road. The aim is to get to the first services as quickly as possible and grab buckets and spades from there, while hammering down a quick Maccy Ds. They’re all about the short-term goals and achieving them on the way to Skeggy.
The Brands meanwhile carefully consider what they need to take. Mr Brand works out what clothes they need, while Mrs Brand plans a route which, while longer in miles, will actually take less time and might even give them the opportunity to stop off for a nice pub lunch. They plan it out by the minute. Factoring in traffic, weather, kids needing a wee and the range of the Tesla. Once they’ve worked out their plan, they’ll stick to it and focus on getting to the beach and playing that game of cricket.
The Tacticals’ sports car is hungry on fuel, but heavy on fun. They have a blast getting to the services and are making good time. They snaffle a Big Mac, have a quick go on Streetfighter, nip to the loo and then wheel spin out again.
The Brand’s Tesla X is fast, but also comfortable and spacious. It says a lot about them. They don’t need to stamp on the accelerator. They make good, unhurried time. They check in with the Tacticals, compare notes and stop at the White Swan for scampi in a basket and a pint of lager shandy. They plug the Tesla in and watch the swans on the canal, while Mr Brand tells the family about how swans are protected by the Queen.
The Tacticals have got a bit lost. They got sidetracked by what looked like a nice road, but it turned out to take them into an industrial estate which is the navigational equivalent of Groundhog Day. Everywhere is the same redbrick factory with a bacon van on the corner. They do some doughnuts in a car park and eventually find their way back onto the motorway, only to realise they’re low on fuel and need to stop again.
The Brands meanwhile are steadily making headway. The air is starting to smell salty and the cries of seagulls ring in their ears. The kids are playing I spy and Mrs Brand is asleep with her mouth open.
The Tacticals have a race at the lights with someone in a similar car. They win, but Mr Tactical thinks he may have tripped a speed camera and the clutch smells a bit warm. It doesn’t matter though because adrenaline is flowing and the land is sloping down to the sea.
It starts to rain. Come on, it’s the English seaside. What did you expect?
The Tacticals struggle to get the roof back on in time and the back end of the sports car is a bit slidy in the wet.
The Brands had considered this in their plan. They slow down, concentrate on the little bit of blue between the clouds and pull into Skeggy. As they reach the sea front, the sun breaks through the clouds. They park up and get out. Stretch their legs and head down to the beach. The kids are full of beans. The parents unfold their blanket, spread out the picnic and try not to get sand in their butties.
The Tacticals skid into the carpark. They fall out of the car. Mr Tacticals’ legs are cramped from holding the accelerator down. The kids are crabby from being squashed in the back and they’re all a bit soggy from the rain.
The two families greet each other. They’ve both achieved their aim of getting there. Mr Brand unloads the cricket set, sets up the stumps, paces out the distance and sets up the other stumps. They play a game. The Tacticals go for the sixes, The Brands go for the single runs - and lots of them. Between them they have a lovely time.
As the sun starts to go down and the wind becomes a bit chillier they realise it’s time to go home. The Brands carefully fold everything up and pack it away. The Tacticals chuck it all in the back.
Mr Tactical watches Mr Brand pack the car and doesn’t understand how he can be so slow. Mr Tactical is already thinking about how quickly he can get to the first stop-off point and how many motorway service station sandwiches he can eat. But he appreciates the fact that Mr Brand planned to bring the cricket set and kept score throughout the game.
Mr Brand considers that while he certainly wouldn’t have wanted to get to Skeggy in the same hectic way that the Tacticals did, he’s pleased they made it and acknowledges the game of cricket just wouldn’t have been the same without them.