London Bye Ta Ta
18:00. Friday night in Leicester Square. It looks like a modern day re-enactment of one of those epic battle scenes from those Lord Of The Rings films, complete with trolls and orcs. Instead of wielding axes and shouting battle cries they’ve got mobile phones seemingly glued to one side of their head shouting their progress to their destination, or loudly declaring their intention of another night of total debauchery. I’d be one of them if I wasn’t making a bee-line for Waterloo Station. Part of me, the Hyde part, wants to go out and play. But Jekyll is tired, hungry and now very nervous at what will greet him at the end of his two hour train journey. In the distance I hear a scream and spy a lanky man with a pony tail dressed in a Big Bird outfit being chased by a boulder of a man in black jeans and a t-shirt. I hope Mikey’s ok, but laugh to myself all the same.
Ten minutes later I burst through the crowds in a crammed Waterloo. I take a couple of seconds to get my bearings, ignoring all the impetuous commuters who clearly believe that they are the only ones who deserve passage between the weekday hours of 17:00 and 19:00. I’m just round the corner from platform 17. The 18:20 South West train to Bournemouth is leaving from platform 13. Thankfully a short walk but the number is hardly a good omen! I join the stream of other south-bound travellers heading down the seemingly endless platform like a swarm of mindless lemmings headed for their imminent death. This time I’d decided to travel in style - first class. Fifteen extra quid for a slightly larger seat and some trolley dolly/action figure with a four wheeled death machine filled with out-of-date sandwiches and coffee to burn the insides of a veteran fire eater. I was more interested in the guaranteed (yet slightly more comfortable) seat and the added bonus of not having to walk two miles down the platform to get to the first economy carriage. I see that plan has backfired when the first carriage on the train is clearly economy. They parked the train the wrong way round. Jackasses!
By 18:14 I’ve found my seat in coach C. A secluded airline seat one row away from the exit, facing backwards - seems appropriate. I stash my coat and bag on the seat to my right, barricading myself against the window and showing clear signals that the unreserved seat is for Dan Shears’ baggage and no other form of life, human, commuter or otherwise, will take its place. I pull out my laptop and plug its power adaptor in to the trains’ power-supply. Another first class perk. I would make a habit of this if I didn’t hate trains so much. Everyone said I should drive. No chance. For one I don’t own a car. There’s no point in London. I could have rented one; you’d get further faster on the back of a geriatric camel than you would on the streets in Central London. I don’t have the patience for it. It also doesn’t help that I constantly managed to get lost on the occasions I have driven. I completely lose my sense of direction. I tried it with a Sat-Nav last time. It sent me the wrong way down a one way street which just so happened to also be a dedicated bus lane. (I ended up shouting at a small plastic box, which couldn’t have looked sane. I’m never doing that again, unless I’m arguing with that KITT computer from Knight Rider.) I figure the sooner I get there the sooner I’ll be closer to getting this whole nauseating experience behind me.
There was one other option – Raphael Turner, an old acquaintance from the heady Bournemouth days apparently now lives on the Isle of Man. He recently passed his flying test and owns his own plane. He’d sent me a message on Facebook saying he would happily pick me up from London City Airport. I wasn’t too enthralled by the offer. Beside the fact that Raphael and me didn’t exactly get on due to him being the more annoying Bournemouth equivalent of Marcus – i.e. a complete jackass – his driving skills behind the wheel of something more earth based like a car didn’t exactly inspire confidence. The prick almost managed to drive his brand new Mini over the cliffs at the end of East Overcliff Drive and nearly killed some poor sod out walking his dog in the process. The twat even managed to land a guy in hospital with ligament damage after crashing his go-cart in to safety wall of tyres that doubled as a public viewing area. The public viewing area was a good seventy metres away from the track! Not surprisingly I said no.
I check my watch as the train pulls clear of the gaping mouth of Waterloo station and moves at a trotting pace southwards. It’s 18:21. I don’t know what these bloody commuters are complaining about! I reach back in to my bag and spend a good couple of minutes searching for my USB wireless adaptor before realising I didn’t pack it. There was no point. No work to do. I’m on holiday. I could’ve done some catch up’s on some of the many programmes I’ve missed recently – Expose’ and Death Defy USA are just a couple of favourites. I would only end up making notes for piss takes or clips to use in the show. I’m not doing any shows for a week. It’s harder than I thought; convincing myself I’m actually on holiday. I grab the first disc of the first season of Killing Time. Emma gave me the boxset three months ago declaring it’s the best show she’d ever seen and I’ve never had the time to watch it, so she made me promise I’d give her the whole season back when I returned. Apparently this American cop called Edward Time (geddit?!!) has to race against the clock to stop a mad man from killing a US senator. Nail-biting, five star exhilaration one blurb says. Even the opening titles are making me yawn!
I did have some other options for going away this week - several actually. Dad and Liz were hoping I’d pay them a visit. I haven’t seen them since Christmas and even then that was only for a couple of hours. They’d come to London hoping to spend the festive season with me but things didn’t work out that way. They got invited to other people they couldn’t really turn down, and I had a few invites of my own. They were disappointed I wasn’t coming over but admitted it was probably for the best, just while the extension work gets finished. (The workers were eight days behind schedule. In Spanish terms that means they’re actually ahead by almost a month! But Dad isn’t Spanish. Liz told me he turned in to a Bond villain checking on the building of his new secret evil lair. Liz is brilliant!) I’ve promised them I’ll visit in the summer, most likely early July.
I could have gone to Australia to stay with Jason and Marie. I should have really. I haven’t seen my brother and his family since they emigrated to Sydney almost three years ago. My Godchildren Matthew and Katie will have probably forgotten who I am. They won’t remember that one of them (Katie I think) decided to empty their bowels in to their nappy when I took her after they had just been christened by Father Michaels. I’m sure it was a protest. But a week isn’t long enough for Australia, and by the sound of it I’ll only get in the way, and now they’re going to Spain anyway. They’ve got a lot on their plate running their empire of youth hostels. Just over two years in and already Sterling Backpackers is winning awards and number one slots in all the travel guides. Just like Dad too, everything has to be perfect - a real chip off the old block. No wonder Jason and I joked that I was adopted. Anyway, I’ve promised them I’ll visit for a couple of weeks in the summer - late July most likely. I should really mention my holiday plans to David.
Edward Time has just been told his wife and daughter have been kidnapped. He doesn’t look happy, or angry to be honest. Man this dude can’t act at all. Just likes to say “God-damn” a lot.