For the past few weeks, I have had a constant companion with me while driving. Let me introduce you to the crack in my windscreen. It has been fascinating watching him (or her?) grow a little day by day, spreading across the screen like a glacial fissure, the edges reflecting the early morning sun on my way to work, and the late afternoon sun on my way home. It looked as though he (or she?) was going to reach the far side of the windscreen, so that I would be viewing the world through a huge bifocal lens, until one day I was surpised by a change of direction – downwards in a gentle curve, and then a slow slither back towards the starting edge, more like a snake now in its insinuating movement. The resultant shape is like a large cartoon nose, or a map of the north coast of Cornwall.
I was reassured by the respectable company who were planning to take away my new friend that the car was perfectly safe to drive. I was in no danger of being showered with shattered glass – modern laminated windscreens do not have dysocial tendencies. They crack, but not in the same way you or I might crack.
I heard today that the supplier has at long last found a replacement windscreen. This is good news, but I will miss my friend. It was good having a slightly different view of the road ahead, a metaphor that I might apply to my life in general, away from driving. Those little flashes of light, as though refracted by a diamond ring, added sparkle to my life. I watched him grow from a tentative little fissure into a crack with confidence and attitude, someone who will make a mark in the world, even if it is just across my field of vision. And I’ve decided it is indeed a he, and I have named him Raymond.