Spontaneously short notice I went to London to visit my cousins. They say they live in Kent (not London) but they’re within the M25 so that’s London in my eyes. A suburb, if you will, like Copnor.
The reason for my visit?
Well, there doesn’t need to be one. As it happens, there was. Drinks in Soho to celebrate my cousin Jo’s freedom from her fiancée. The woman had dumped her as quick as a sneeze, strung her along like a string of snot, and had finally tissued and discarded her in the gutter.
This is cause to celebrate because:
Is better than a kick in the teeth
So straight after work on Friday night I caught a train to London.
Havant to New Eltham, via Waterloo / Waterloo East.
The first leg was a South West Trains service. Unfortunately, their ‘service’ when I worked in Fareham was abysmal so until the franchise changes that’s the best they can ever ever do.
Begs a wonder why I went for a job with them straight after I left the Co-op and stopped working in Fareham. I would’ve hated it. They have what I consider to be ‘poor working conditions’.
We departed on time (YAY!). Got to Haslemere and were full. Got to Guildford and there came the apologies over the tannoy. Seems to be a busy service, didn’t consider an extra carriage. Get to Woking and we’re pressed up against the glass. Clapham Junction? Shoe horns, darling, and deep breaths.
Because overcrowding takes time we got to Waterloo behind schedule. It was heaving and I was invisible. Rotten luck.
The final leg was with Southeastern and I have no complaint with them. I didn’t have a seat but 2 fifteen minute trips isn’t really a big ask, and we’re in London! It’s busy. They’re timely and they’re trains are long. Londoners are entertaining. What more could I want?
Jo to meet me at the station, which she did.
We got back to hers. I saw Madam Whiplash (my aunt) for a few moments. She toddled off to bed (work in the morning) and Jo and I caught up.
It’s not my place to say anything so I won’t. As go breakups, it’s a complicated affair — goods and bads, it’s full of them.
I will say, though, that I’m not amused. I don’t care for the ending, it stinks a little callous. And I don’t care for these reasons given that really don’t make any sense. Makes me wonder if she even thought it through.
I was in desperate need of a haircut so after breakfast I took a walk to the barbers and had the longest haircut ever. Lifetime. My whole lifetime. The girl took over an hour. After she finished nibbling away at my hair with a tiny (but pretty) pair of scissors this bloke came over to inspect what she’d done. He gave her 8 out of 10. It was very odd. But it’s London, sorry Kent, I suppose.
We then tarted ourselves up and got on a train into London. Charring cross. Jo had to explain how I had to pay because it wasn’t tickets, it’s all contactless and I don’t have a contactless card. It’s a new card but not contactless. And I don’t know what to do because I don’t have one. Apparently you have to tap it against this thing and it beeps. All very new age to me.
I wanted a bag.
Jo wanted a drink and I wanted a bag and a drink.
This bag should be very simple to find but it’s taken me 2 years. I want a small messenger bag that I like. Not too much to ask. The one I have now will do and has done for these 2 years but it offends me and always has. I just don’t like the colour. It’s this deep khaki green. But I was in need and it was the least offensive.
Since we were near Oxford Street we popped into a few shops. I didn’t even see bags let alone not be able to choose. I ain’t got a new bag. The quest is ongoing. Let’s see if I can make it 3 years.
In Soho there were lots of arseholes. I mean actual physical arseholes. There were a lot of men wearing these pants with a whole cut out in the back. For ease of access, one presumes.
It should be noted that, for a gay man, I’m not current on trends and terms.
We found this delightful little stall that sold traditional English sweets. I got the chocolate buttons with hundreds & thousands on them, and those coconut mushrooms. Jo some sugary lace thing. She didn’t like the coconut mushroom I gave her. She said it had the consistency of sick.
Delicious sick! I love them.
I do like the disclaimer on the back of these sweets: May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.
Then it was time for a drink.
I was allowed in She Soho because I was accompanied by a woman. I couldn’t see in She Soho because they don’t have very many lights. Hardly any. Some of the light fixtures had no bulbs. I can only describe it as dark with a dark murals on the walls, and dark seating.
If I ran this bar, and for the next 3 months I could (my liquor licence is due to expire), I’d have lights and colourful things — I wouldn’t blind people, just make sure they could see so I wouldn’t get sued because someone’d tripped over something and broken their face.
We then went to Nando’s and unfortunately ours wasn’t cheeky. It’s Nando’s, we can take it or leave it. It was closest and we were hungry.
After food, and during our stroll around, Jo spotted her sitting on a bin! I didn’t see her, I would’ve walked straight passed her, but Jo did and we about faced. Walked straight back the way we’d come.
We went for another drink but when that was disgusting we decided to head back.
We walked back through the West End, commented on all the urinals — “how do I piss?” I said through the railings — and after watching a man with half a hat on walk by we got on a train to Chistlehurst.
Jenny (Jo’s mate) picked us up and I like her, she’s an amazing woman. Forthright and fantastic, she gets a thumbs up from me.
We’d just got in when the terrorists struck.
We wouldn’t have been in, we would’ve probably been leaving the centre of London, heading for the station if we hadn’t seen her sat on a bin.
Charring Cross is near and nowhere near London Bridge, but certainly close enough. After all it only takes a decision or circumstance to differ to take things someplace else.
It’s just surreal.
It’s quite sobering.
People were out enjoying themselves when these pathetic pricks attacked.
I love the stories of bravery, of the people comforting the injured and fighting back. This is our spirit. This is who we are.
We’re not monsters.
And 8 minutes is damn good — from start to finish, dead. Kudos to the police for that.
After a slap up meal it was time to go home.
The train to Waterloo East was still — people didn’t speak much. I read True Crime magazine.
London Bridge station was closed, and I could see through the window the buses parked on the bridge that I’d seen on the news. And forensic tents and the white dressed officers, and little glimpses of the scene in daylight.
Waterloo was quiet — on alert but comfortable, usual. Unusual, because I’d never seen the floor before. Muted chat and a police presence.
It was South West Trains again and it was packed, as usual. It then turned into a replacement bus at Havant. I know I can’t really blame South West Trains but I do. They can’t do anything right, they never will.
They make me want to learn to drive. I often say this: so I should.
It was a good weekend spent with the people I love.