“Excuse me,” says the Dutch tourist politely, leaning out of the window of his shiny campervan. “How do we get to the…” he consults his phone, “Lewes Arms?”
“Let me ask you something,” I reply. “How desperate are you to go there?”
“Because not only is the Snowdrop, for instance, very nice, but I can tell you how to find it. Trouble with the Lewes Arms, it’s a bit cut off by roadworks.”
“We are meant to be meeting some people there, you see?”
“There are loads of other places you can get to once you’ve made the forced left turn at the top of Station Street.” Momentarily I can only think of The White Hart.
“Our friends said they will see us at the Lewes Arms.”
“Well I honestly don’t think they can really want to meet you. They’re fobbing you off, mate. That pub is the current, though temporary, winner of the most complicated place to drive to in Britain award.”
“What is ‘fobbing off’?”
“Unless you’re willing to park and walk? Though parking’s a bit problematical. Essentially there isn’t any. It’s been suspended because of the roadworks.”
“I think I will just drive along here, thank you so much…”
I put my hands firmly on either side of his window. “Don’t go up there, crazy man. There are a shedload more roadworks along Priory Street.”
Honesty Girl strolls up. “Ooh, who are your blond friends?”
“They want to go to the Lewes Arms.”
“Nah, forget it, guys. You can’t go up Station Street at all now. Town centre’s a no-drive zone.”
“I am sorry dear ladies, our friends are waiting.”
“They say they are, but they’re not really,” says Honesty Girl. “They’re thinking, blimey what a drag having to host these Amsterdam boys, let’s invite them at the height of Roadworks Open Season. That’ll teach them not to bring any giggle weed.”
I nod in agreement and start to pick off the edge of a large purple flower transfer that’s been stuck onto the van in a sweetly honest display of hippy-ness.
“The difficulty of automobile access in your town is rather stressful,” says the driver.
“It is possible we are the ones who would benefit from some giggle weed,” says one of his passengers.
“Worthing’s very nice,” says Honesty Girl. “Well, it’s not my cup of tea but you can drive into it. Bonus.”
“This whole country can just fob off,” cries the driver. He spins the campervan round on its impressive turning circle and speeds off in a cloud of exhaust, my sweaty hand-prints still visible on the side of the vehicle.
“Phenomenal grasp of English, those people,” says Honesty Girl, and we walk into our newly pedestrianised town for a glass of something cooling at the Lewes Arms.
Disclaimer: Because the roadworks keep moving, the author cannot be held responsible for any inconvenience resulting from this column being mistaken for a guide to road closures.
Beth Miller, 3rd August 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com. Picture by Xavi Buendia