Tuesday November 15, 2005
I had one of those clockwork mornings. You know, where everything that needs to be done gets done, in order, on time, and without snags. At the end of it I tidied my lunch things away, stacked the dishwasher, wiped over the worksurface and sink one last time, and stood back, well satisfied. Unless you’re a Zen monk or similar there’s no high art in the smooth accomplishment of routine chores but it’s a sour individual who doesn’t experience some pleasure in the feeling of a job well done.
“I’m going to take my nap now,” I told Graham as he sat on the train between Taunton and Derby. “Give us a text, please, when you leave Derby, and that’ll make sure I’m at the station in time to meet you.”
“Sure thing,” he said. “Have a good sleep. And well done.”
I placed my mobile phone on the night stand where I’d be sure to hear it, applied head to pillow, and sank immediately into a deep, satisfying sleep.
Oh, all right, when the phone dinged my WAKE UP! call the illusion of smooth control was shaken up somewhat but a mug of coffee got me going again and I was at the station in Boston with fifteen minutes to spare. I didn’t fancy the look of the steamy, smoke-filled fug in the station bar, nor did I really feel the need of bad coffee so, despite the cold, I perched myself on a bench half-way along the platform, stuck my hands deep in the pockets of my coat—time to dig out winter gloves and scarves—and settled down to people watch. I was happy enough there until a sneezing, wheezing, coughing woman came to sit next to me. Not wishing to risk another cold I heaved myself to my feet and set to pacing along the length of the platform, then back, turn and repeat.
Haven’t done the platform pacing thing for an awful lot of years, not consiously, anyway. It used to be my regular way of passing the time while waiting for a train back in the days when I preferred public transport as my favoured way of getting about. Trains and omnibus journeys became increasingly uncomfortable for me as my arthritis developed, I’m afraid, and I turned to the freedom to stop, stretch and rest that comes with the private car.
Graham’s arrival reminded me forcefully of another reason I don’t do trains.
“Coffee or home?” I asked.
“Neither. I’m busting for a pee.”
“But the station loo is closed for the night!”
“Oh, BEEP! Where’s the closest one that’s open?”
“Hop in and we’ll drive over to the one in the police station carpark.”
It was a small emergency, though uncomfortable enough for the sufferer. Can you imagine it? A two-hour journey on a train with no loo, and a station loo locked for the night when you arrive at your destination at 16:30? Torture by public transport, that what that is.
“Coffee or home?” I asked again when he emerged, bouncing, and looking his happy self once more.
“Oh, home, I think. You don’t need coffee here do you?”
“Nah. Too cold.”
And so, off we drove into the night, arriving in pretty good time, and good order, to meet a delighted Dolly who came bounding into the nicely warm kitchen at the sound of Graham’s voice and waited impatiently for us to open the door and greet her.
“Home again, home again,” I said.
“Diggetty dog,” said Graham.