Friday 15 August 2008

IT man and Indian defy convention, but train conforms to type

14st 0lb – or, to put it another way, completely stalled some 21lbs short of the target I set myself for this summer; 2.5 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,269 days in which to bring my diet to a successful conclusion, before the onset of decomposition renders it pointless; Kensington.

I had a secret rendezvous outside Barclays Bank in Morpeth this morning. Not so secret now, I suppose. I just happened to be in the town placing my dog in the tender care of my aunt, who was taking him with her on an exciting (by dog standards) trip to Northallerton; while the IT specialist I have been attempting to get in touch with for the last few days happened to be heading to the bank to pay in his takings. He is either a phenomenally successful IT specialist, or he is running a penny arcade on the side. What surprised me was that, having arranged to meet me outside the bank at opening time, he felt the need when he turned up to get out his mobile phone and ring to check which of the other people in the queue was me. This was slightly troubling given that the other candidates were a scruffy old tramp with the arse hanging out of his trousers, who was smoking a dog end he had just retrieved from a litter bin; a white-haired fat bloke clutching a huge cloth bag bulging with small change from his own amusement complex; and a granny pushing a pram containing what appeared to be a baby, though I cannot exclude the possibility that it was a very young or exceptionally well disguised security man protecting her own fruit machine takings.

He didn’t look geeky enough to be an IT man, really, but I nevertheless handed over the hard drive from my computer, so that he could see what he could make of it. For some inescapable but unfathomable reason I felt obliged to effect the handover in a furtive and Gary Glitterish sort of way. Then I drove back home and set up on my desk the new Bose speakers to which I had treated myself in Newcastle yesterday, feeling that I had had enough of the old ones which required me to walk around to the other side of my desk every ten minutes or so and fiddle with the wires in the back of one of the speakers, always assuming that I wanted to continue listening to both channels simultaneously. Looking for something suitable to play as a test piece on my laptop, I happened upon a very fine CD set of Baroque music by Antonio Caldara, which someone recently kindly gave me. The only snag was that the box contained only the second of the two expected CDs. Through what Sherlock Holmes would have termed a three pipe process of logical deduction, I concluded that the missing disc could only be in the CD drive of my deceased desktop computer. Luckily indolence had prevented me from taking this to the municipal dump, sorry recycling centre, so I was able to access it in my garage. As it turned out, I could only retrieve the disc by forcing open the CD drive with a screwdriver, smashing the drawer off with my foot, then turning the computer upside down and shaking it. But this seemed like a wholly appropriate act of revenge for all the frustration that the machine had caused me over the years.

After I had listened to a few bars of Caldara, it was time to drive to Newcastle to catch a train to London for the weekend. I duly boarded the 14.05, which started from Newcastle on time and had completed all of about 800 yards of its journey to King’s Cross when it broke down. I was able to remain calm throughout this crisis by taking a close look at the alternative approach being played out in the seats across the aisle, where a rich and stupid man in a cream suit, accompanied by his young son, was soon approaching apoplexy. I concluded that he was stupid not simply because he was wearing a cream suit, but because he had been due to board the 14.00 fast train to London. This was running a few minutes late, so he had leapt aboard the 14.05 slow train instead. He had done so because he was in a frantic hurry, yet had thereby guaranteed a later arrival in London even if the slow train had not broken down. And he must have been rich because only those maniacs who actually splash out on full price first class tickets are allowed such flexibility in their choice of trains.

We eventually limped back into the station, and were invited to board the 14.56 train to London instead. This proved to have only two first class carriages, instead of the usual three, and the air conditioning was not working in one of them. I was lucky enough to secure a seat in the one that was not at the daytime temperature of the surface of Mercury. My journey was enlivened by occasional sightings of the increasingly bedraggled man in the cream suit, puffing his way through to the buffet car for further supplies of iced drinks.

Once in London I made my way to Kensington by tube, and checked into an allegedly four star hotel which proved to be distinguished from a Travelodge chiefly by the extreme loudness of the checked carpet, curtains and bedspread in my room. The Less Tall Cheshire Brunette joined me later in the evening and we went out for the least Indian meal I have ever eaten in an Indian restaurant. We began with cocktails, then worked our way through an inventive and delicious six course tasting menu. Luckily only one of us was rendered incapable by selecting the option of a complementary glass of wine with each course. I am sure by now that I don’t need to spell out for you which one of us that was.

No comments: