Belfast Telegraph

Kerry McClean: I love commuting to do my show, it's two hours of calm in an otherwise hectic day

By Kerry McClean

I love living in my hometown, something the 17-year-old me would never have believed. As a youngster, I couldn't wait to get up and go, head out and explore the world. I wanted to travel and believed my Eighties heart-throb, Paul Young, when he sang Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home). Except, it wasn't. It was my digs, my flat-share, my room and so on, but never my home.

So, when the pull of the north coast became too strong in my late-20s, I packed up my possessions and have been happily living in my hometown ever since. It's a great place to bring up my children. Quiet, peaceful, close to beaches and forests and, most importantly, family.

The downside? Well, I think most people would say the two-plus hours it takes to travel up and down to Belfast for my afternoon show on BBC Radio Ulster each day. And you'd think I would hate it - that it's wasted time when I could be doing something useful - but in all honesty, I love it.

It is two hours of serene calm in an otherwise hectic day. A cherished 120 minutes of getting to select what songs I'd like to listen to without commentary from the kids in the back seat about being exposed to "old lady music". And if you think my choice of tunes gets them hot under the collar, you should hear how they react to The Archers. The amount of grief I'm given from my three if I dare to expose them to a mere 12-minute episode of the latest adventures in Ambridge.

I know many people who hate their daily commute. My husband loathes the long journey, especially at this time of year, when the nights are drawing in and the roads become icy and dangerous.

My late daddy made the same journey we currently make every day for years before he retired. I remember when we first floated the idea of moving back to Ballymoney, after my eldest had been born.

My dad reassured my hubby that the journey up and down the road flew by; sure minutes, he said, and you're back home.

It was only after we'd bought a house and unpacked the boxes and he knew we were well and truly ensconced in a home five minutes away from him that he confessed he actually loathed the hours spent in the car. He had told his little white lie to get us up the road and his daughter back home again.

My husband never held it against him. As a father of two daughters, he understands the desire to always have his girls within walking distance, or preferably in the same house, if you give him half a chance.

I do think the fact I came so late to driving also makes me enjoy my time in the car that little bit more. I was in my thirties before I finally passed my test. I'd had a couple of runs at it before when I was living in London, but I wasn't what you would call a natural.

My first attempt came to an end before I'd even exited the test centre. Nerves got the better of me and, instead of putting the car in first gear and setting off smoothly, I stuck it in reverse and crashed into the centre's wall.

I fared a little better on my second attempt. Mirror, signal, manoeuvre? Check. First gear? Check.

Avoiding the cyclist on the footpath as I left the car park? Sadly not. No harm done, thankfully, but another record broken for the shortest length of time needed to fail a driving test.

When I did finally pass I was beyond ecstatic. Do you remember that feeling you got the first time you set out driving on your own?

A dizzying sense of freedom combined with a wee bit of fear that only added to the excitement.

That's what I recapture a little of every time I wave goodbye to my lovely husband and children through the windscreen and set off on my daily journey.

It's not just Paul McCartney who enjoys a long and winding road.

  • The Kerry McLean Show is on Mondays to Fridays, BBC Radio Ulster, from 3pm-5pm

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