A journey as the country mouse heads north for the winter (hey, I never claimed to be sensible!).
I am writing this on the Gatwick Express, hogging an entire table. There are 7 minutes left, and I can virtually guarantee that when there are 30 seconds left the train will become super, super busy and my table will be joined by about 46,000 people, no doubt Belgians, eager to sit near me / by me / on me. The joys of travelling in the week before Christmas.
5 minutes to go and I’ve been joined by a pretty girl, who’s chatting on her mobile. Luckily it seems to be a simple perfunctory call, so I am hoping she’s not one of those people who can’t handle a thirty minute journey without phoning evvvveeeeryone in her phone book. She’s hung up now. Yesssss. Further to the hopes for a kindred train spirit, she’s not glaring at me, hasn’t invaded my foot space (I know, I’m petty as hell) and has taken the outer seat.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for manners, and indeed have risked many a glare from a teenage boy or yuppie businessman by giving up my seat to an older person, pregnant lady or person with children when travelling by bus/ train/ metro/ tube. But when there’s plenty of room on the train or other vehicle providing public transportation? People….spread out!
10 seconds to go….. and we’re off! Another person is tapping away on his laptop also, but I doubt he’s of my ilk. He’s very smart and businesslike, whereas I am writing something to upload to my blog later, and am currently listening to ‘There Is Life Outside Your Apartment’ form Avenue Q. And I’m wearing jeans, a pink sweater and walking boots, and am working a particularly frizzy case of travel hair (roll on tomorrow’s hair cut!). Hardly captain of industry wear. Lord bless the school for giving me a laptop – it’s great for work, and just as useful for my actual life.
I may have misjudged Pretty Girl Opposite Me On The Train (PGOMOTT). She’s now made two further calls. More updates, later.
Wow, Sarf London always looks bleak on this bit of track. It’s the portion between Victoria and Clapham, and it’s really going for that Urban Decay look firing on all cylinders. Probably doesn’t help that today is all grey and blowsy and damp and lacklustre. No doubt I’ll be desperate to get back to this after ten days of Scottish temperatures.
PGOMOTT is on the phone again. In another language! Wow, I wish I was bilingual. OK, I can muddle along in French (“Ah, bonjour, je voudrais un pain au chocolat et un grand café au lait, s’il vous plait.”) and I can just about keep up with the conversations of others in slooooow German (for example, I know that “Pimmelkopf” is a great variant to use when you tire of the boring old British “Dickhead”). But I wish I could speak another language fluently. Maybe Spanish? Yeah, then I could go to Madrid and dance and drink and siesta and have passionate fights. Hmmmmm, it would be a change.
God, I’m hungry. Why does travelling make me hungry? I know the schedule of sitting, waiting and changing trains (damn, apart from the last bit that was almost a Jack Johnson lyric) is hectic, but why am I starving now? I may have to repair for a bowl of chips and a beer at Gatwick. Oh man, why did I have to think of that? Now I’m really hungry and craving fatty foods. Doggone imagination.
We’re now crawling through East Croydon station. The Express doesn’t stop here, but does slow down to give you a full glimpse of the misery. Now, I like Croydon, having spent quite a few visits there when Nat lived in that neck of the woods; but the place kind of defines “bleak”. Especially to a country mouse like me. There are many things that cities and towns have that make me jealous (cinemas, shops, nightlife, culture, PEOPLE….), but the grim tower blocks, litter and bloody little oiks spitting I can definitely live without.
Ticket collection time! Woo! A nice smiley trainee took my ticket away, which is fortunate because otherwise I would wind up keeping it my wallet for about six months convincing myself I’m going to scrapbook it or save it or something. I always do that. My friend Hannah is an excellent keeper of things – cinema tickets, theatre programmes, plane ticket stubs….I think she inspires me to think I can do it too, when actually I’m far too disorganised. I just wind up with a box of crap which I chuck out in a fit of pique when moving day arrives.
Ryan Adams is now what I’m listening to. I caught the Ryan Adams train very, very late, only getting ‘Gold’ a year or so ago. Actually, I bought it at Gatwick on the duty free (other purchases included No Doubt’s ‘Tragic Kingdom’ – I had worn out my tape copy…old skool!, and a kickass pair of navy beaded flipflops. Ah, 2004, the year I embraced flipflops….praise be!).
I’m trying to think what discoveries I made in 2005….hmmmm. Fashion stuff first I think…. I discovered that ballet pumps are cute, and even cuter when adorned with flowers and / or embroidery. That Clinique skincare is totally overated (for my skin, at least), but that their foundation still kicks so much butt, as does their cream eyeshadow. That I love Bath and Body Works, but judging by my VISA bill from my trip to NC, it’s lucky they haven’t spread over here yet. That I love the smell of sweetpeas, magnolia and Ralph Lauren’s Romance. That I both suit and adore skirts, but that I cannot wear suits under any circumstances….I look like a besuited marshmallow.
Oh, here’s Gatwick. Doesn’t time fly?