Friday 1 August 2008

Two returns and a first class single

Again no idea of my weight, but I think the word “fat” would probably cover it; maybe 10 units of alcohol yesterday; 1,283; Lewes.

No morning tea again today; what is the world coming to?

For many years I spent my weekdays in an office in Smithfield which could be relied upon for four things: (1) it was always stiflingly hot in the summer and unbelievably cold in the winter; (2) the loo was invariably engaged when one needed it; (3) the computers always crashed and the photocopier jammed when one was rushing to get out a press release; and (4) the AV equipment bombed whenever a client stood up to deliver a presentation. Strangely enough, since I ceased to have any managerial responsibility for these issues, they all seem to have been sorted out. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I’d ring one of my former colleagues and ask if I could borrow one of their gloriously air-conditioned meeting rooms so I could write in comfort for a few hours, but that is how I passed my time today.

At 3.47 I took the train from Victoria to Lewes, travelling first class in an attempt to find space in the brilliantly designed new carriages for my large suitcase. I practically had it thrown at me by an aggressive man who boarded at East Croydon and found it impeding access to his favoured seat, even though there were several others available in the compartment. Given the size and bulk of the item, and the speed with which he moved it, I do hope that he has not escaped the attention of the Team GB selectors for the Olympics.

I got off the train in the company of a variegated bunch of punters heading for Glyndebourne. As usual the men were nearly all in black tie while the ladies’ dress standards ranged from what one might expect at a State banquet to something appropriate for the day room in a middle-ranking care home. The most elegantly turned out were also the loudest and drunkest; a party of youngish Americans who lurched out of the station swigging champagne and smoking fags like there was no tomorrow. Which, after all, will one day turn out to be the correct analysis.

My own journey from the station was the shorter one to the friends’ house where I was staying for the weekend. They have had the builders in since I was last there, and these had proved to be among Lithuania’s finest. No-one could possibly fault the splendid job they had done; though, as one must expect with any construction project, it had not finished precisely on schedule. My friends’ enlarged and renewed kitchen was still not in commission, but they nevertheless managed to rustle up a delicious, light and quite probably healthy supper; after which I had the unprecedented and rather disagreeable experience of slumping on their sofa watching America’s Got Talent for the best part of an hour, chiefly wondering what magical powers prevented Piers Morgan from being punched in the face several times during the course of it.

Then I walked to the station to meet the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette at the end of her long and tortuous journey from the North West. My host had predicted, with uncanny accuracy, that it would take me precisely 20 minutes. He had also recommended the perfect route, which involved descending the dark and precipitous Keere Street (best not attempted without a rope and crampons at any time, and not to be contemplated under any circumstances when wet, however well-equipped you may be) then walking along a gloomy but mercifully deserted Muggers’ Alley beside a park. No doubt he was mildly surprised and disappointed when I made it back in one piece by taxi, but at least I had the compensating presence of the radiant LTCB to cheer up the brief remainder of the evening for all of us.

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