Ready to go on

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Missing Friday!

There you are, the whole thing is falling apart. I missed a day with my blog. What do I do now? Give up? Or write two blogs today?

I have excuses. A lovely, but busy, day, spent with my wife visiting places and friends in Edinburgh; plus a show in the evening? It really doesn't cut the mustard. does it? Still, you're probably glad to have a day free from the constant 'tapping on the shoulder' 'look at me' persistence of the whole thing? Perhaps a blog should only be written when you have something important to say? That's this site closed down then!

I saw three Vermeer paintings yesterday in The National Gallery of Scotland. There are only thirty five known works in existence by Vermeer, so I saw almost ten percent of all of them. Just thirty five? Why is he so famous? They are very good, I should imagine, I really don't have the knowledge or skill to tell otherwise? I certainly couldn't paint them and I'm quite skilled with a brush, free hand window frames with gloss and all that.. Then again, there were only twelve episodes of  Fawlty Towers and Vermeer isn't as famous as John Cleese, is he? 

I think I'm rambling?

It's snowing this morning, which, though predicted, is a bit of a shock to the system. I had rather got used to the first throws of Spring and now I'm wondering if I will be stuck in Scotland or, indeed, if the set will make it from Edinburgh to Southampton? I'm getting the train down in the morning. Not to Southampton; I don't have to be there until Tuesday; but to my home.

As I think I've said before, I like train journeys, especially when I have my wife with me to keep me comfort. We have had some interesting train journeys in our time. Yesterday, whilst talking to my friend, David, I was reminded of, probably, our most notable.

We had spent a rather riotous weekend in Paris at a 40th birthday party, staying up very late on the Sunday night. We finally got to bed at about four in the morning after a long session of drinking and singing of Beatles songs in the hotel bar. This was not a good move as we were booked on the first Eurostar back to London on the Monday morning. So, an hour after we went to bed my wife woke me up by pushing me out of bed on to the floor, literally. We were still clothed from the night before and stumbled out of the hotel in to a taxi to the Gare Du Nord.

Once on the train we both fell asleep. I was woken, some time later, by an announcement. "The next stop will be Ashford International." Now, I live in Tunbridge Wells and I realised that it would be far better for my wife to get off at Ashford and change to a normal train to there. I was going to continue on to London. Shamefully I admit that I was due at rehearsals for a new musical at ten o'clock. How I thought I would get through the day I don't know, but I felt I could save my wife the trouble of going to London and then getting a train back out to Kent.

I woke her up and told her to gather her stuff together (most of it was in various plastic bags) and, when the train stopped, I bundled her off the train, waved her goodbye and settled down to snatch another hours sleep before work. As I and the train drifted off, I thought I heard the sound of bagpipes. Clearly, I was more hungover than I had imagined?

The rest of my day was fairly uneventful. My wife, on the other hand, found herself confronted by several uniformed and red-sashed Eurostar staff and a full piped band that began to escort her along the platform to the main concourse. There was one other passenger that got off the train with her, a French business man, and he looked as bemused as her. Remember, my wife was hung over, was wearing yesterday's party clothes, had mascara smeared across her face and was carrying several plastic bags stuffed with dirty clothes. She was also completely at a loss to explain a welcome that wouldn't have gone amiss for Amy Johnson on her first solo flight across the Atlantic.

It turned out that the train we had caught was the very first train from Paris to stop at the brand new Ashford International station and Ashford was not going to let this momentous occasion pass without some sort of celebration.

My wife and her French businessman were escorted the hundreds of yards from the platform to the central ticket and passport hall, pipe music blasting in their ears the whole way, and, as the doors opened, were greeted by most of the dignitaries of Ashford, including the Mayor. An even larger band struck up a welcoming tune and a gaggle of 'hired for the day' blond beauties with far too much make-up and trays of champagne stepped forward to offer the two bemused passengers a celebratory drink. The French businessman was obviously late for an appointment. He quickly made his excuses and moved off, leaving my wife as the sole surviving pioneer. The Mayor clasped her hand tightly and dragged her in to the middle of the group of dignitaries for photos from the local press.

Apparently he had been practising his French especially for this moment. "Bienvenue a Ashford, madam." he pronounced, proudly. "I'm English, actually." my wife replied. This didn't deter him and he continued to chat away in broken French whilst insisting that she drank at least some of the dozens of ready poured flutes of champagne.

I would love to have a copy of that photo. I doubt it made it in to the local paper? It would have looked such a sad affair and would hardly have promoted Ashford International Station as the hub of multi-national business that it imagined itself to be? The elite of Ashford, menacingly surrounding a dishevelled clubber with a scowl that could kill at fifty paces. Welcome to bloody Ashford, indeed!

When my wife finally extricated herself from the situation she asked one of the station staff where she could catch the next train to Tunbridge Wells? "Oh, sorry madam.", he replied,"you've missed it. The next one will be about an hour." She would have got home more quickly had she stayed on the train with me.

I hope tomorrow's train journey is a little more straightforward?

PS I was terrible at rehearsals that day and I'm surprised I didn't get sacked. I really am giving the impression that I drink like a fish and don't give a toss about work, aren't I? It's not true. You ask anyone at my local pub? They all know me and will swear blind that I hardly touch the stuff.

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