And Then To Cap It All …..

I had an odd sort of a day on Friday.

But in the spirit of attempting to prove that everything provides ‘material’, let me see if I can turn it into an amusing little anecdote.

I should have known that things might not turn out at planned as soon as I realised I’d left the flat without my phone.  I’m not entirely dependent upon the thing, and can manage for quite long periods without ever using it, but on Friday there were some potential uncertainties in my arrangements to meet my friend R, so I knew I had to go back for it.

By then, I’d missed the 13:07 train, so strolled to the station to catch the 13:27.  Just as I arrived at the station I noticed I’d already got a ladder in my tights.  Even though I might be the only person to notice, knowing it was there made me feel less than well turned out, on a day when I was theoretically dressed to impress.

If anyone knows where to buy a pair of tights around Hays Galleria, perhaps they could let me know.  (Next doesn’t count as they seem to sell only ‘one size’, as in ‘one size will never fit anyone’, especially not someone over 5’12.)

After my business meeting, which was a little odd and on not on the topic I had been anticipating, I took the train to Richmond; an entirely new experience for me that came out of one of those conversations with friends about how we are all stuck in our own little ruts and there are so many things in and around London that we’ve never even tried.

I was early to meet R so I wandered around Richmond for a few moments in search of a pub, and sat outside with a late afternoon glass of cold pinot grigio,  pondering life the universe and everything, and, finally, no longer worrying about the rip in my tights.

We went to see ‘Autumn and Winter’ at the Orange Tree Theatre.  It is by Lars Noren, a Swedish playwright, with a  grim view of families.  Set just as the food is finished at a family dinner hosted by the parents of two adult daughters, polite conversation quickly develops into a wine fuelled emotional slugfest where old wrongs and misremembered realities are used to batter each person in turn.

The performances were tremendous, and in such a tiny theatre, where the audience members in the front row have to watch where they put their feet in case they trip up the actors, I was transfixed by their concentration and conviction.  But at an hour and 45 minutes with no interval, they left me both physically and emotionally  numb, and mentally beaten up.

We wandered out of the theatre a little punch drunk and subdued, as  I girded myself to the journey home to North London, in my first experience of the Richmond to Stratford train service.  I was early for the 21:55 which left on time.

All was going well until we got to one of the Hampstead stations when a ‘signal failure’ was announced.  By this time, the train was fairly full, and I was surrounded by a group I decided were boyfriend/girlfriend and their respective mothers, down visiting from the north somewhere for the weekend.

I tried to block out the inanity of their conversation, which at one point was about the collective words for things (a gaggle of fools?), by concentrating on my book.  The girl of the group was slouching next to me, her legs crossed, one foot swinging in the air.  It was like having a strobe light in my peripheral vision.  Closing my eyes was the only way to escape it.

This would have been a nice place to be instead.

My attempts to imagine myself somewhere else were interrupted by the conductor announcing that he didn’t think the train would be going any further and we should think about trying to find alternative routes.

With some trepidation, and not entirely sure where I was, I left the station and was plunged into the swirling mass of ‘merry youth’ that inhabits the environs of Camden Town at 11:15 of a Friday night.

The first bus that came was so full it was impossible to get on.  Finally after a quarter of an hour or so I was able to squeeze onto one.

Even in a jammed bus it’s amazing how quickly a space can form when someone drops an open can of lager on the floor.

I should have never stood next to him; he was one of those bleary eyed unshaven habitually drunk looking people, leaning in a corner, not quite able to hold his head up.  But hindsight is perfect when you’ve just been doused in beer.

When I was waiting for the Tube at Finsbury Park everyone gave me a wide berth; I would have too.  The place was packed as an earlier failure of the Victoria Line had evidently just cleared delivering hundreds of people to change onto the Piccadilly platform, but I had my own little invisible cordon around me.  I tried to look as if I didn’t know I smelt like a pub.

I finally got home just as the midnight chimes from Big Ben were on the radio.

The tights went straight into the bin outside.

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