There’s nothing I love more when starting a trip than to accidentally on purpose eavesdrop on a private conversation that stops being private simply from its volume and intensity. On the train to London our seat neighbour was enthusiastically discussing the gossip from a rather interesting wedding she had recently attended, covering off the usual annoying family members, inappropriate insults and wedding related drinking games. It seems I’ve been missing out considerably on the latter, I always knew crying family members were a good reason to drink, but incorrectly warmed brownies! Hell yes, I’ll drink to those!
Our journey started out as normal. A nice relaxing morning getting ready, last minute print outs, a quick breakfast of night before’s frangiepan tart, (yummmmm, as the Woodpecker might say) coffee and the news. Anne-So got up and as the clock ticked towards our departure time her nerves increased. Ok, sometimes we cut it fine, but I promise you this was not one of those days. We had plenty of time, all was in hand but as usual she was stressing out. The good thing about being genuinely on time and not just saying we’re fine whilst sprinting along the road mumbling expletives to yourself is that approximately three minutes after leaving the house the stress was replaced with held hands and a kiss. Happy times and a good omen for the trip to come.
As usual the ticket machine didn’t want to play ball with AMEX and was also threatening to decline my other card which eventually went through but only on contactless and not with chip and pin, how odd. Thankfully other than the onboard entertainment, we got the uneventful 55 minute journey to London we hoped for.
We then made the short trip by tube to Victoria via the Victoria line including running the gauntlet past the now thankfully removed Evian baby sex noise wall at St Pancras. If you didn’t get to see it, the wall was a wonderful video installation playing a Hip Hop version of ‘The Bare Necessities’ whilst the baby versions of the Evian sponsored tennis stars grunt and scream around their virtual tennis courts. This advert was disturbing in every way imaginable. With headphones on it sounded like someone was being murdered, without, like you were stuck in some kind of strange tennis themed porn film. I hope karma grunts the unfortunate folk who came up with this ad.
Anyway, we get to Victoria and take the Southern rail train to Clapham Junction. Nothing happens and although it makes for a less entertaining story I’m quite happy about this.
We exited the station and headed towards our friend N’s place. As we were about to cross the road I was stopped in my tracks by a rather worse for wear looking man, screaming and dancing in the street. He did not appear to be a performance artist, though perhaps I was wrong as he did seem to be asking for money… He was berating a man at the crossing and whilst he is heading in the same direction as us, we are safely separated by two lanes of traffic. By the time we attempt to cross again our raving friend has vanished from earshot and line of sight.
It was a short walk to N’s house and it was good to see her. Considering the year she’s had, her spirits seem much improved from when I last saw her a few months back. She seems like the friend we knew again, trying new things, seeing friends, meeting new people.
We enjoyed a nice walk together, browsing the street market and in my case indulging in some rather good Ethiopian food (sadly they had run out of injeera bread). We finished up our time together with a drink at a local bar. It was a brilliant way to start our trip and great to see N again. I could still feel the sadness in her heart but at the same time feel her optimism for the future even if she was a little unsure as to what it would bring. We talked about meeting up again this summer for a seaside trip, I hope that it happens.
We picked up our bags and headed for the Overground. At this point I realised that nearly all our London friends and family live on or just off the same branch of the Overground between Stratford and Clapham Junction.
We spent a pleasant few hours catching up with my Grandma and feeling like it was only right to celebrate Bastille Day we headed out to Cote for dinner in which a series of leaks and spills would come to define the evening. The first of which was my Grandma telling a tale of a leaking bottle of elderflower wine in her fridge that had got her into a panic thinking the fridge had broken, the second was a delicious broth filled with mussels that narrowly missed Anne-So’s legs and upper body but nevertheless went flying across the table, adjacent empty chair and ended up splashing her shoe. The night before we’d watched the Dead Don’t Die and as Adam Driver said, “It’s going to end badly” and unfortunately like him we’d also read the script which basically said bad things happen to Anne-So.
Anyway, dinner was tasty and unremarkable, we enjoyed our complimentary G&Ts for booking online as well as a complimentary dessert and incredibly sincere apology for the spillage.
We headed back to my Grandma’s to enjoy some TV and conversation before going up to bed where we were warned there was no need to set the alarm as the builders next door would wake us up instead. She said that we’d hear the digging, de-plastering, drilling, hammering, knocking and so forth at around 8 A.M.
Despite the back room where we slept being frightfully warm and the mattress having long since lost its spring we felt right at home.
Like I said earlier, I’d read the script and whilst a regular person might have thought Anne-So had been lucky with her near miss at the restaurant they’d have been wrong. Call it divine intervention, bad luck or just plain old carelessness but she was in for a nasty surprise when she pulled out her pyjamas which were now rather wet.
Did our friends cat, Nixon decide to urinate on our bags? No, the outside was dry… so what could it be? A rapid unpacking took place and an open and now almost empty bottle of make up remover had caused the catastrophe. Thankfully the raging inferno of heat from my Grandma’s radiator that never stops managed to dry out the damp items (it really is on all year round). On the plus side this was probably the least worse place for an accident like this to happen.
It was now time for a broken nights sleep as tomorrow we had a plane to catch!