Tuesday 20 May 2008

From The Bloater to Top Totty

13st 10lb (yet again); 3.0 units of alcohol yesterday evening; 1,354; Dean Street.

If I pride myself on anything, after all my years in PR, it is my mastery of efficient scheduling. So this morning I got up in good time to roll out of the drive at 7 sharp, en route for Morpeth station. Every detail had been carefully thought through. Apart, as it turned out, from the fact that the car had no sodding petrol in it and I had to drive the whole way with a “low fuel” light winking at me menacingly. True, I do have another car and could simply have transferred the dog, canine impedimenta and my own luggage across to that, but then I might well have ended up missing my take-off slot and paying National Express an exorbitant amount for a new ticket. So I just crossed my fingers and pressed on, without any disastrous results except on my own blood pressure.

Although I had a ticket from Newcastle, I needed one for the connecting service from Morpeth. So I joined the back of a long queue, composed entirely of women. Most unusually, they all actually wanted to travel immediately. Tradition demands that, at rural stations with only one ticket clerk, some berk will time his arrival to enquire about taking his extended family to Cornwall in three months’ time, using a railcard and hoping to avoid a change of train at Birmingham New Street, just before a crowd of people who are anxious to obtain tickets for the imminent train. This lot all wanted to go somewhere, but none of them had heard of that useful commodity known as cash, so had to faff around in their purses to find a credit card and then put their dear little heads on one side to try and remember their PINs, so that they could make major outlays of £3.90 or £4.35.

Luckily Northern Rail do not impose a penalty fare when this sort of carry-on compels one to buy a ticket on their trains. After this, things went smoothly enough, apart from the all-too-visible presence on the other side of the carriage on the 09.00 from Newcastle of a hugely obese woman, very much in the Claire Rayner mould. Her normally sized colleague suggested that they might go and have breakfast in the restaurant car, but The Bloater demurred, explaining that she had eaten before leaving home. She then proceeded to stuff a bacon sandwich and the largest biscuit I have ever seen down her throat, ensuring that evidence was cleared away before her companion returned. I expect back in the office they say, “It really is her glands, you know. Honestly, she hardly eats at all. Turned down breakfast on the train with me again.”

It strengthened my resolve to diet, if nothing else. At least until I entered my club, intent on having a glass of fizzy water and a green salad for lunch, and somehow ended up with a Bloody Mary, smoked cod’s roe, roast pork, Scotch woodcock and three quarters of a bottle of claret. But at least I did have the glass of fizzy water, too, so something went according to plan.

A nap, a read of the papers over tea in the library, a look through a friend’s very amusing film script, then a stroll around to the Groucho Club to meet him for a drink. How could a day be passed more agreeably? You certainly get a better class of totty in his club than you do in mine. And even the women who aren’t attractive, on any objective analysis, appear to be convinced that they are and behave accordingly. This seems to enable them to communicate a none-too-subtle and entirely convincing message about their sex appeal. I wonder how much one would have to drink before it would work for The Bloater from the train this morning?

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