Tag Archives: Trains

The £50 Sausage Roll

27 Jun


I guess it’s up to me to start the ball rolling…two weeks ago tomorrow, I met up with three other bloggers.  You may recall my anxiety about it and your endearing replies, to wit: Stuff ’em if they don’t like you; we do and that’s all that matters.

Terribly sweet, thank you; if a little unfair to three lovely bloggers who would have written the same thing, I’m betting, if it hadn’t been them I was meeting.

Back to the ball: don’t you think it’s peculiar that we are all bloggers and yet no one has written anything at all about our day?  I can’t decide if it’s:

  • Fear of what everyone else might say so they’re exercising a little caution i.e. waiting for someone else to go first, to check if what they’ve written is nice/nasty/sweet/flattering/boring/complete lies, and then they’ll reply accordingly
  • Idleness
  • That they’ve been far too busy with their real lives to write about me, me and more me
  • That I didn’t provide enough Maltesers and now they’re punishing me
  • That they are still recovering from the horror of it all
  • Something else.  What do you think their something else could be?  Answers in the comments, please (bearing in mind that all three bloggers will read what you’ve written, so be nice/sweet/flattering/tell complete lies)

The day began, as all of my days seem to begin lately, with a train.  Specifically, the Stockport to London Express (similar to the very first express train journey in the days of steam from Stockton to Darlington, only not as fast).

When I booked the tickets (which is to say, every so often I would say to the Hub, ‘Have you booked my tickets yet?  Better get a move on; I’m going next week.  I wish I didn’t have to keep reminding you.’  And he would reply, ‘I will; just as soon as you tell me which day you’re going and what times you want to travel.  As I keep asking you.’  Such a nag) the Hub suggested I travel First Class as a treat, because they had an offer on: £96.  I could do First Class, I thought, Sure; why not?

Turns out, I can’t do First Class.  Not both ways, anyway.  And not even one way, I suspect my fellow passenger was thinking fifteen minutes into my journey.

I arrived at the station early enough to catch the previous Stockport-London train if I hadn’t bought an Advance Saver ticket, which is the only way I could afford to travel First Class.  I had to wait for the train  I was booked on, but this sign made me giggle for the time I had to wait:


The train arrived; I ran to the back coach to board, terrified I’d miss it (hence the fifty minute wait at the station).  Horror!  A man had put his briefcase and jacket on my seat!  What to do?  What to do?

There’s this whole British embarrassment thing going on, you see, that says if someone behaves inappropriately on a train, you have to ignore it and not make a fuss.  It is best exemplified by an apocryphal story from back in the days of British Rail.  


I was going to tell it and I thought I’d Google it because I’m a dreadful storyteller. That is, I’m dreadful at telling stories; I don’t tell dreadful stories.  I hope.  I tend to wander off down random alleyways, like Ronnie Corbett on acid, and this post is supposed to be a five-minute read; but clearly isn’t.  I don’t want to make it even longer.  

When I Googled the story, I discovered it’s actually true!  And, unfortunately, a little too blue for a family blog, so you’ll have to click on this link if you want to know the story.  And you should click on the link, because you’ll never read a more accurate example of true Britishness.

So there I was, British and embarrassed, but I had paid for that seat and First Class is a rare treat so I blushed from the hair on my head to the hair on my toes and whispered to the gentleman that I thought he might have – excuse me – put his belongings on my seat and would he mind terribly…?

He did not mind, being British and horribly embarrassed at his very public solecism; and he stood up to let me past (no squeezing past because this was First Class and there was tons of room) to my window seat, moving his belongings out of the way.  We smiled politely without making eye contact and then ignored each other as much as possible.

I got comfortable: Kindle out – hardly read a page when oh goodie! the tea came round – oops! forgot to message the Hub that I’m safe on the train – and should I message Al that I’m on my way?  Yes, because I’m really excited – get bag out – phone out – message them – put phone away – bag away – oh, wait – wanted to write something in my notebook – get bag out – put Kindle away – get notebook out – put bag away – write three lines in notebook – get bag out – put notebook away – get Kindle out – put bag away…and so on.  Then breakfast was served and I swear my neighbour had a mini-stroke.

I wish I was joking.  Sadly, I’m not: I am that annoying passenger you wish hot tea would spill upon.  I assure you it’s not deliberate; it’s nerves.  I’m an anxious – and therefore fidgety – traveller.  Sorry about that, multiple strangers I’ve annoyed in my lifetime.

To be on the safe side, I ordered something I could eat with a minimum of fuss i.e. no cutlery, so it was two overdone sausages on a dry roll instead of the full English I’d have ordered if I hadn’t been A. embarrassed at how irritating I was and B. worried that I might cause the businessman to have a heart attack if he had to sit through my sideways fidgets on top of everything else.  DSCN0148

The roll was dry, by the way, because I’m not used to being posh.  When I buy something on a bread roll from a shop, for example, I just expect the roll to be buttered, because it has never not been buttered.  The Other Half, however (and how I was wishing by this point that I wasn’t discovering how they lived), are offered butter and thus choose to have it on the bread roll or not, according to their dietary needs, I suppose.  Unfortunately for me, a surfeit of choice from some people having more money than sense means that ordinary working class women are left ignorant when offered butter and think it is extra butter and don’t want to betray their ignorance of the Ways of the Rich or their own on again-off again diets and so decline the extra pat which turns out not to be extra at all; just simply all.

And of course, being British, when I discovered I was down one butter pat and would have to eat a dry roll or ask for butter after all, I chose to eat a dry roll.

That drama over, I looked up from my half-eaten breakfast (would you eat an overcooked sausage on a dry bread roll?  Then stop judging me) and made the truly appalling discovery that there only five passengers in the whole coach…which meant I had made a stranger move his things for nothing!  

I wanted to crawl into that leftover bread roll and be served on a platter to The Giant Embarrassment (I believe you’ll find him in a fairytale about sex and trains and cigarettes), who eats idiot working class English women for breakfast.

I apologised profusely to my neighbour and then made him move so I could move to the other side of the table and stop crowding him with my blush.

I settled down to read.  Had a cup of tea.  Wrote in my notebook for a bit.  Read some more.  Drank tea.  Wrote some more.  Drank tea.  The nice thing about travelling First Class is all the free tea.  What I didn’t like was being asked to use the same cup again.  I’m a bit of a diva that way so I owned my temporarily elevated status and insisted on a clean cup each time.  As there were so few passengers, I used all of the clean cups around, to the side, and behind me.

Then my table mate asked for a second cup.  

Guess who had used all of the clean cups…?  

Kill me now.

When the train pulled into Euston two hours after setting off, I was seven pounds lighter from all of the nervous sweating I’d done.  No wonder my fellow passenger did a runner the minute we stopped.

But he did wish me a good day; he was British after all: there’s no need to be rude to the aggravating hoyden who took all the space, drank all the tea, fidgeted, unnecessarily moved him twice and – worst sin of all – left crumbs on her seat from her dry breakfast roll.  Why not use butter like ordinary people?

First Class…it’s not for me.  As I discovered when I obsessively checked my ticket before returning home that day: First Class had only been booked one way; the train company website had been rather vague when I booked my ticket and I hadn’t noticed that the home ticket cost £23 to the outward journey’s £73; which meant that my half-eaten and unappetising breakfast had, in effect, cost me £50.

I had to travel back in standard class instead of First.  I’ve never been so relieved in all my life.


More to follow on the lovely day I had with my fellow bloggers; but the post will probably be considerably shorter.


A Day In Carlisle

21 Mar
The nave of the Carlisle Cathedral, Cumbria, E...

The nave of the Carlisle Cathedral, Cumbria, England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sorry for no blog yesterday – there was nothing quoz about it; just admin: I wanted to post about my trip to Carlisle but I had used up 99% of my photo allocation.  I had no time to write a post because I spent the afternoon playing Cyberman: Delete!  Delete! Delete!

It wasn’t a random trip to Carlisle – I went to visit Viv of Vivinfrance fame. For non-residents and geography noobs, Carlisle is not in France, and neither was Viv – she was in the north of England, visiting her daughter Sally and family for five days. You can read about our meeting from her perspective on her blog.

Sally gave me a choice of places to meet that were accessible by train, my preferred form of travel, and Carlisle was easiest and cheapest – £24 return on an Advance Saver ticket, but I had to travel on specific trains at specific times.

A week last Tuesday saw me up at stupid o’clock, when it was -4 outside, and leaving the house at seven-ten for the 7:37 train.  I changed at Preston, with a wait long enough to include a much-needed cup of tea.  I opted for a medium cup; it did not cool in time for me to drink it before it was time to board the train.  

Ever tried to use a station toilet wearing winter clothes, including gloves,  and carrying two bags and a medium cup of tea?  I don’t recommend it.  You can’t leave the cup outside in case someone drugs it or, worse, steals it.  

Keeping one hand, erm…un-used, in order to maintain the cup’s hygienic purity, resulted in contortions and grunts, and – once I emerged to see the long queue which had formed of irate people needing a wee before getting onto their train – disapproving stares.

After a pleasant journey in which none of the ladies from my toilet were on the same train, I finally disembarked into Viv’s cuddling arms at 10:46.

I had a gift for her (you can’t visit empty-handed; my mother taught me that): 


It is a packet of tissues.  Viv writes amusing and/or pained poems from wordles, or word clouds, with which she has a hate-hate relationship.  I thought she might find the packet amusing.

Don’t worry, that’s not all I took for Viv – I also gave her a packet in white.  We had a good laugh about it:


We visited an interesting bookshop, in which I was sorely tempted to buy English: A Course For Human Beings by Eric Partridge, but I was worried it might offend the next alien invaders to earth.

Viv then treated Sally and me to lunch in a friendly little place next door.


Here’s mine.  Yummy!  The filling of chicken and bacon was so large, I couldn’t finish it.  That must surely be a first.


After a long and chatty lunch, we visited Carlisle Cathedral, across the road.  Viv spotted this and said it reminded her of me after a large meal, snoozing in a corner:


Sadly, Viv and Sally had to leave at three, to be home for Sally’s son.  We walked back to the station; here’s the view from the station entrance:


Just out of sight is the woman who backed her car into a post as I was waving to my friends.  She made an ‘Oops!’ gesture and drove off without checking the damage.

Because of my ticket restrictions, I had almost four hours before my first train home.  I walked back to the cathedral because I had noticed a tourist information office next door.  I told the woman there that I had three hours to kill; what could I do?  She suggested the castle just down the road (literally – Carlisle is a small city).


Under the road in the photo above is a subway to access the castle.  It is like a mini-museum, with engineering artifacts and plaques.  Very interesting.

The photo below is of the subway, taken from the castle side.  The floor has names engraved in it, but I don’t know whose.


The castle is promising from the outside but is mostly a cluster of buildings inside.  I had a wander and I came upon an old man who watched me for a while and who must have assumed I was looking for the military museum which I didn’t know existed, because he said, ‘We usually close at four but I’ve turned off the lights already.  I don’t mind putting them on again if you want to look around the museum.’  He was so obliging, I accepted his offer.

The museum is small but fascinating, detailing the history of Cumbria’s Border and King’s Own regiments.

I haven’t seen this view of the trenches in a museum before; quite humbling.


The curator and I had a bit of a chat and then it was time for me to find something else to do.  Tourist sites close at four in Carlisle so I had a wander around the shops.  Did you know, every pound shop across the country stocks the same items?  Must be why they can sell stuff for a pound.

Fatigued by five, because I’d been on the go all day, I found a greasy spoon and ordered egg & chips and a mug of tea for me tea (for my non-Brit readers wondering about that last sentence, I’ve lapsed into my original strong northern accent, which I do when I’m tired or surrounded by other strong northern accents).

I was the only person in there and the owner disappeared into the back to (as he later explained, when I called him after spending a pleasant twenty minutes writing in my notebook in the silent shop) jiggle with his phone.


After me tea I made a slow, slow walk back to the station: partly to pass the time; partly because I was beginning to feel as old as my friendly curator of the museum.

There was a quiet waiting room at the station and I spent an hour reading, checking the electronic timetable.  The 18:46 Euston train from Glasgow was On Time…On Time…On Time…Delayed.   Uh oh.

Worried about my ticket and transfers, I found a helpful member of staff – by the way, I’ve never met a friendlier bunch of people; not one person I spoke to or from whom I asked help was grumpy or unpleasant.  I bet Carlisle even has nice bus drivers – and explained my dilemma: I had an Advance Saver ticket and had to get on specific trains at specific times (I put that last bit in for your benefit – the train man already knew how Advance Saver tickets work).

He told me he expected the train to be cancelled – it had hit someone.  It was an express train, so I’m sure it was bad news.

Darryl the Train Man told me to get on the next train to Preston, even though it was earlier than my ticket allowed.  He said that all the staff knew what had happened so I shouldn’t have any trouble and if I did, to tell them to call him at Carlisle.

The next train to Preston, where I was to change for Manchester Piccadilly  and then again for Stockport, came in three minutes later.  It was only once I was on that I saw it was going all the way to Manchester Airport, its penultimate stop being Piccadilly.  The nice female conductor not only gave me no trouble, she said I could stay on to Piccadilly and even printed out a new ticket to Stockport, to save me any hassle that side.

I arrived on Platform 13, in the bowels of Piccadilly at around 8:30 p.m.  A young woman with a toddler, a huge suitcase, a laptop and a large handbag was struggling, so I offered to take her case.  Her English wasn’t great so we walked together in silence through the extended concourse (besides, what do you say to a complete stranger who manhandles your luggage from you?), and I finally came up with a conversation starter: Are you going on?  

Sheffield, she said, and that was the extent of our chat until her grateful ‘thank you’s when I handed over her case; I don’t think she’d been convinced she was getting it back.  I wandered off in search of my 8:43 Stockport train – it was on…Platform 13.  I started to run as fast as you can run when you’ve been shopping, sightseeing, travelling and visiting all day, when I saw the Sheffield train.  I ran back to my young woman of the toddler and dragged her and her suitcase on to the right platform.  I told her not to panic because she had forty minutes until it left, then ran back again – really running this time – to the platform at which I’d first arrived.

I hopped onto my train just in time.  As we pulled off, the driver announced, ‘Welcome to the 20:43 train bound for Nottingham, calling at Stockport and…Sheffield.’


Joke 666

18 Jan
English: 14-series sleeper train in Japan(2-be...

English: 14-series sleeper train in Japan(2-berth 2nd class car) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A man and a woman who have never met before find themselves in the same sleeping carriage of a train.  

After the initial embarrassment, they both manage to get to sleep; the woman on the top bunk, the man on the lower. 

In the middle of the night the woman leans over and says, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I’m awfully cold and I was wondering if you could possibly pass me another blanket.” 

The man leans out and with a glint in his eye said “I’ve got a better idea…let’s pretend we’re married.” 

“Why not?” giggles the woman. 

“Good,” he replies. “Get your own blanket.” 

From ajokeaday.com

Ze Train! Ze Train!

19 Jul

<a href=”


http://www.youtube.com/v/fzGMnDOsGVQ?version=3” target=”_blank”>

Planes, trains or automobiles? What is your favorite way to travel 500 miles?

It has to be the train.  Unlike a car, I can sit, stand, walkabout.  All traffic is going in the same direction.  Unlike a plane, I won’t crash into a mountain and have to eat my fellow passengers.  Even I don’t like my food that much.  But I do like trains, so here are some interesting facts for you:

  • The earliest railway in Great Britain was built between October 1603 and October 1604.  Which was a bit of a waste of time, as trains hadn’t been invented yet.
  • The first railway in America was used in 1826.  That was in the days when ideas flowed this way to that, and not the other way round.
  • The steepest Cogwheel railway in the world is in Switzerland. It has a gradient of 48%.  Rather like their chocolate.
  • Great Britain has over 40,000 bridges on the rail system.  If you’re lucky, the one in your area will be open for use.
  • The longest straight stretch of railway is in Australia. The part without any curves is 478km (301 miles) long.  This might be the one time I’d choose to fly.
  • The heaviest train weighs more than 27,000 elephants.  In the scale of things, that’s a pretty big scale.
  • In the 1800s, trains moved at peak speeds of 25mph.  Ah, the good old days, when trains moved so quickly.
  • The only railway to go to the top of a volcano was built on Mount Vesuvius in Italy, in 1880.  The ride down was much faster.
  • There was rush hour traffic on the Oregon-California trail.  The more things change…
  • The fastest train in the world is the TGV in France. It is a similar train to the Eurostar which runs in the UK and across to France and Belgium. It can go at 515km (322 miles) an hour – four and a half times faster than a car on the motorway.  A motorway in Europe, that is; in Britain, it’s forty-four and a half times faster.
  • Central Station has the largest platform in the world.  That used to be true; now it’s Lady Gaga.
  • In test runs, the French TGV reached speeds of 584km per hour and when it braked it took 10 miles to stop.  Bet that aircraft carrier is looking mighty nippy round about now.
  • The longest possible journey on one train can be taken between Moscow and Vladivostok in Russia, on the Trans-Siberian Express. The journey is 9,297km (5,857 miles) long.  No wonder Dr Zhivago is such a boring book.
  • The largest station in the world is Grand Central in New York. It has 44 platforms.  Lady Gaga is working on a fiendish plot to steal them for her next video.
  • Even in full emergency, it can take a train a mile or more to stop.  This means if the engineer can see you, it is already too late to stop for you.  Moral: stay off the track.
  • Time was standardised by the introduction of railway timetables.  ‘The train arriving at platform 1 is due at four minutes past sunset’ wouldn’t work on cloudy days.





17 Nov

Hub and I went to see a preview of Unstoppable last night.  I like previews: they start early, no adverts, and I’m home by eight-thirty – the perfect night out.  Well it would have been, if it hadn’t been for my guilt about leaving Spud.  We haven’t left him home alone at night since, well, ever.  We never go out, so how could we?  I felt like one of those women who go off to Turkey for a month leaving their three kids home alone with just a packet of crisps and a box of matches.

I got free tickets from seefilmfirst but my fee is a review of the film, so here goes:  

I loved it; the Hub thought it was the naffest thing he’d ever seen.  I thought it was tense and exciting; the Hub wondered why train drivers the world over aren’t picketing outside every cinema where it’s showing.  I think Denzel Washington looks good even in a woolly hat…by then I had lost interest in the Hub so I don’t know if he feels the same.

I recommend you sign up to seefilmfirst: they send regular invites to all kinds of films and shows.  I don’t think you have to blog about them unless you can, and you get to be in bed by nine: what’s not to love?

A Pain On The Train

18 Jun

I was so tempted not to post yesterday and let you all wonder if I had been mugged on the bus, but I’m not that mean.  Then I saw the Madam & Eve cartoon and had to post anyway, so I killed my own joke.  I had another busy day yesterday, compounded by the effect of drinking a whole glass of martini & lemonade the night before.  I felt like I had a hangover; that’s what late nights do to me – I was out until ten on Wednesday.

I went to the Best of Manchester Poets book launch and had a blast. Standing with a martini in one hand and a poetry book in the other is like a little piece of heaven on earth; all I needed was a Malteser and I could have died at that moment of utter joy. The ice-cube in the drink was listening to some excellent poetry read out by real performance poets. A fabulous night.

Getting there was a bit of a performance – well, not getting there so much as preparing to get there. It took me over an hour of trawling the GMPTE website to discover, first, it would take three buses and a train to get there and, second, that it wouldn’t.

Studying maps of the centre of Manchester, the Hub decided that I shouldn’t walk 700 metres up one street in a sort of unfamiliar city (I’ve been there only for tutorials and exams and summer school and the occasional foray into Primark) and persuaded me to get the train instead, which would bring me out much closer to the venue, the Green Room.

I never need much persuading to take a train, but I wanted to save some money: one of/the only perk of my work placement is that they pay £7 of my £11 megarider, a weekly bus ticket. I thought I might as well use it to go into Manchester but the Hub encouraged me to waste our hard-earned £5 nest egg instead. You think I’m joking about the nest egg?  Last year, I decided in January to save all my spare change and use it towards Christmas Dinner. I gave up in August when I had a total of £3.72 in my jar. I bought us all an ice cream instead.

It wasn’t just deciding on the best mode of transport for my perilous undertaking; there was also the matter of the correct attire for an evening literary engagement:



top – black/white/black & white/short-sleeved/long-sleeved/tucked in/left out?

Tory Boy & Spud Bud, look away now!

That took some sorting and included a raid on my sons’ wardrobes to see if they had anything that might fit me (they didn’t) and a jack-in-the-box bra-fitting impersonation as I tried on black top (needed a black bra), white top (needed a white bra), black top (black bra), white top (white bra), black & white top (hysteria began to set in).

Okay boys, it’s safe again.

There was a frantic rummage through my jewellery boxes for my graduation brooch (a story for another day) and then it was just a matter of choosing shoes. There was no choice, really, because my state-sponsored tap shoes are too uncomfortable to wear without a carpet underfoot. I have taken to going to work in the Hub-and-my trainers (black with velcro straps; the Hub bought them for himself but has yet to feel how comfy they are because I keep them on my shoe rack and snarl if he tries to borrow them) and changing into the toe-cripplers before I start. It’s an idea I got from Melanie Griffiths in Working Girl, before her trout pout and Alex Baldwin was famous. I didn’t want to be tramping on and off trains and around Manchester in pain – the medievally-tortured face is so last season – so I put on my faux-Cat beige boots and promptly took them off again, opting for pain and aesthetics instead.

The look complete – black pants, black shoes, blood-red feet, white blouse (the first item I had tried on and discarded) and white bra (though nearly…), the Hub and I were getting into the car for the station as Spud said, ‘You do know your top is see-through, Mum; don’t you?’ The Hub was having none of my reasonable panic attack and ushered me in to the car with all the finesse of a long-time cop arresting a particularly nasty serial killer who first ties the tongues of fourteen year old tactless sons into slip knots before topping their crazy mothers.

I hobbled onto the Manchester Piccadilly train and hobbled off again seven minutes later, thinking that was £1.30 well spent – for a return ticket as well.  It costs me 20p more for a single journey into the centre of Stockport, which I can walk in twenty minutes (or two weeks, depending on the shoes).  Manchester is quite a bit further on.  However, my penny-pinching soul’s joy was short-lived because I was later charged 50p for a slice of lemon in my martini.  Hmmph. 

The train was packed but I found a seat and squeezed in, then squeezed right out again before the seat had time to sag when I noticed the First Class signs posted all over the windows.  I tried to go through to the next carriage but couldn’t get one of the connecting doors to open and bashed my head on the glass.  It wasn’t until an hour later that I discovered, when the people I thought were staring at me in the bar because I had a poem in the book, that they couldn’t take their eyes off me because there was a backwards ‘Out of Order’ imprint on my forehead. 

I didn’t mind standing in the train corridor and being squashed against the toilet door because it gave me the opportunity to overhear the following conversation:

Woman 1: Put her in with the cockerel.

Woman 2: No, she’ll regenerate like the TARDIS.

I am so sad that I never heard the end of it but it was my own fault because I suddenly noticed the emergency medical kit glass looked cracked.  Don’t ask me why I decided to test it, because I don’t know.  Thank goodness the glass fell quietly inwards instead of tinkling to the floor of the train.  I hope there was no cctv on board.

I changed at Piccadilly for Oxford Road, an uneventful two-minute ride, and popped into the loo when I arrived.  It was at that point that most people would have noticed a forehead covered in ink, but I was distracted by the fairground effect caused by the aluminium that masqueraded as a mirror.  I also had to deal with the conundrum of the toilet roll: imagine a ship’s life belt stapled to the back of a toilet door and you can’t even begin to imagine how big this thing was.  I had to decide how much I would need before I sat down.  I had a nervous stomach because of the event but I wasn’t sure quite how nervous it was: take too much toilet roll and I had the problem of what to do with the leftovers; take too little and I was stuck in a public toilet for the night.  The ideal solution would have been to unravel some and then sit down with it, gently tugging at it until I had enough for my needs.  Pity I’ve only just thought of the ideal solution two days later.  I’ll gloss over what happened next.

The Green Room is just around the down hill corner from the station.  I’ve told you I had a great night.  The award-winning performance poet Dominic Berry hosted the evening.  I’d like to say I’ve heard of him, but I haven’t.  He was excellent, though.  We poets were all given our free copies when we arrived – it’s a proper paperback with an ISBN number and everything!  Available on Amazon, by the way.  An editor was chatting to some of us and she said that almost 600 poems had been submitted and only around sixty had been accepted, lots of them by new poets like me.  It was alleged that quite a few well-established poets had been put out by not being accepted, but all submissions had been read anonymously.   I did notice, however, that each of the editors and the publisher had at least one poem in the book…hmm.  This particular editor must have thought me rude and discriminatory because I gave her funny looks while she was talking to me; but it wasn’t because she was disabled – she had a bit of dirt stuck to her eyelash and it batted against her glasses and freaked me out.  I wanted to pass her a wet wipe but thought she might take offence.  I wonder if it was better that she believes me bigoted than critical of her personal hygiene?  Some days I am terribly British.

Dominic Berry talked about the Manchester poetry scene being a natural successor to the Mersey poetry scene; it was interesting, then, that the first five poets to read were from London and Wales.  I am from Liverpool but I didn’t read – not with this voice.  In church the other day I twice had to say the phrase ‘her hair’; with my accent it sounded like ‘hur hur’.  Twice.  I wouldn’t mind, but it wasn’t even my turn to read the lesson; I had been asked to swap.

I left the Green Room just after nine, having heard some wonderful poetry and sucked the life out of my fifty pence lemon slice so they couldn’t re-use it and charge some other mug for the privilege.  I crawled up the hill with my chánzú feet and straight onto a train bound for Piccadilly.  It wasn’t worth sitting down for such a short ride; I stood at the door holding onto the granny bars with both hands in case the door flew open en route and I fell out and was crushed to death by a train or electrocuted by the live rails, and looked down at the city, contemplating that train is the best way to travel, ever, when the driver announced that there had been a signal outage at Burnage and all services had been severely disrupted and  this train was terminating at Piccadilly.   The petulant student who had bruised me with his skateboard as he struggled past me with his humongous rucksack and massive suitcase was not pleased, and phoned his Mum to tell her so.  It was ridiculous: after all, he had arrived in time to catch this particular train.  What was the point?

I dismounted at Piccadilly and walked on my hands to the next Stockport train, which was Birmingham-bound.  Climbed aboard; was pushed back by the rush of passengers ordered off that now broken train in order to catch the one behind; boarded the one behind and sat amongst the detritus there must have been no time to clear away before it was called into service; and watched people fall over my feet, which were three times larger than my stomach and just as pretty.  I remember looking at the symmetrical moles I suddenly noticed and then realising they were shoe buttons. 

The seven-minute journey took fifteen but the glorious Hub was waiting for me as I staggered out of the station on the back of a stranger I had requisitioned to carry me, and within minutes I was in my bathroom, feet in sink and warm water schmoozing contented ooos from me.  I was desperate for my bed so I thought I might as well brush my teeth while I was there, but I didn’t think it through: where to spit?

Well, it must have taken you as long to read this as my entire night out.  I bet you wish I’d taken the bus after all.








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