I sat in the passenger seat driving through Wales, the radio was set to the level that destroys all car journeys by altering their natural state from relaxed joint venture, to trying to guess what the other person is thinking.
The radio volume was neither too high to dictate silence, nor too low to induce conversation; indecisive. A man thinking he should kiss the girl, but instead asking her what her favourite episode of Glee is. A show he inexplicably hated, because he’s never seen it.
Should we turn the radio up? Who should turn it up? If I turn it up, will that mean the person driving will think I don’t want to talk?
Could that encourage the driver to think I’m awkward around them?
Might that induce feelings of resentment toward me, that might come out later, in an unspoken quarrel about who ate the last bag of crisps?
They might try to harmonise the situation by trying harder to like me, which might mean they turn the volume back down and fill the silence by saying what they see – even though I’m seeing exactly the same things…looking through exactly the same windscreen.
The problem with me turning the volume down, instead of up – was exactly the same, only upside down.
No, I decided, my only course of action was to look out of the window and leave the responsibility of the radio volume in the mind of the driver.
So I looked out of my window, and that’s when I noticed…
The road signs in Wales look like Whales…