I should be blogging about the sodding saga of my struggles with the utility company. After last week’s no show, the phone call I made an appointment for this morning, after three phone calls last week (the last a booked call to arrange for today’s booked call to arrange for someone to come for the third time to fit a working meter) … guess what … didn’t bloody happen. A curse on you, Scottish Power!
(And don’t say why don’t I switch providers — I can’t do that until I have a working meter and no outstanding bills or disputes with the current one).
But no, let me calm down and finish the tale of my London trip.
Next morning, hot and sunny once more, they were due to go to a family barbecue, so he dropped me at the station, and I went back to the big city.
There is now a baggage store company called BagBnB, so for a fiver I left my rucksack of smelly clothes at a hotel near Victoria Coach station, which took a load off both my mind and my shoulders. I went (slowly) up to Hampstead on the 24 for a day of nostalgia. The old flat is still there and very little has changed (except the old post office below (we were on the very top floor) is now a hair salon. And the five-yearly works must be going on, as the side and back are scaffolded.
I even had lunch (for my imaginary son, Ralph’s 45th birthday) at Dominique’s café, which is still on South End Green and still does a very nice eggs Benedict (yes, I know it’s a comedown gastronomically, but associations add flavour). Then a nostalgic and melancholy wander on the Heath …
… and through the leafy back lanes of Hampstead, before I headed back to Kensington for the Beethoven 9 Prom for which I had won two stalls tickets on Radio 3’s weekly quiz (I’m on a roll!). I met a Facebook friend, an erudite Bengali from Glasgow who works near Heathrow, for a drink then we went to the gig.
Having had first class train travel down, stayed in a luxurious bedroom, eaten at three top-class eateries and had £52 stalls seats for the concert, my £14.50 bus ticket back to Edinburgh was a comedown. Especially as I had to leap out of my seat and run to a cab as soon as the symphony ended. Hardly necessary as I waited in an unruly queue for 25 minutes before they’d let us on the bus.
I once again proved Wilde’s dictum that no good deed goes unpunished. Arriving late, a young Polish couple looked saddened at having to sit far apart, so I let one have my seat, so they could be together … then found I was next to a very large woman, who snored a lot.
This is not body-shaming. This is Megabus seat-shaming. One wide person and one tall one in seats ‘ergonomically’ designed for the average arse and the average human height (ie midget) combined to give me a painful left buttock and what felt like incipient dvt — and no sleep. The rough-looking chap with the two fractious young kids in front of me and the loud-spoken Sheldon Cooper tribute act just behind didn’t help, but at least they were quiet after midnight.
I thought there might be some respite at Woolley Edge Services, where the driver took his compulsory break, but no doors were opened and no services made available.
I did get to move at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, next to a suspicious looking, sulky but wonderfully tiny Chinese student, who kept falling asleep onto my shoulder and then jerking awake and away (while I pretended to be asleep). But I was straight to bed when I got home at seven-thirty, and slept until two pm. Hashtag false economy, hashtag never again!
And there are only four more gigs to do at the Edinburgh Fringe. Boy, will I be glad when that’s over. I refer the reader to my previous hashag. Don’t be fooled by the jolly exterior in the team pic…