A few months ago I had suffered a weird dereliction of parenting and now, at 4am, at a motorway service station of Siberian bleakness, I am suffering for it.
My daughter and her friend Rosie have arranged to go to France for work experience to boost their language skills. I somehow sat back and allowed Rosie’s family to do all the vetting on the company they’re going with. In the blackness of the coach park, illuminated only by the orange glare off wet tarmac, I regret my laziness.
The precious girls crawl out of the car, their faces sleepy moons. Is it snowing now? We approach three coaches that tower above us. The one for the girls should have the name of the travel company in the windscreen. None of them does.
A guy with a clipboard jumps down.
“Are you for France?”
White slavers don’t carry clipboards. Or do they? They might even have iPads nowadays.
“Carenza and Rosie?”
They heft their enormous bags into the hold. I see them scramble up into the coach and head for the back. I stand in the freezing wind waving limply, but they don’t even glance – their adventure has begun.