Friday, October 24, 2008

Destination mare

Maybe I shouldn't have laughed at Laura's misfortune. But today was a day of direction underachievement all around.

Drunken public transport 'freestyling', as Anna called it, saw her hopelessly lost in late night London. She was eventually, via a distressed Bristol-locked boyfriend and the Met Police, recovered. But the tale of her boozy misadventure (a wrong train and an impressive THREE progressively more wrong busses) was good enough for Anna to wake me into a ferocious hangover at an upsetting eight am.

My sister was animated and we laughed hard and long.

In Tonbridge High Street at five thirty one, my hands clamped together in heartfelt prayer and my eyes pleading with the unwavering and unimpressed (but well fed) manageress of Carphone Warehouse, the tables had turned.

I’d run between two open phone shops which didn’t sell what I needed – and now I’m at the one that does and it’s JUST shut? NO.

I’m cashing up, we’re closed, she gestured.

I showed her my lifeless phone, mouthed ‘CHAR-GER’ and continued to beg... For nothing.

I turned around and in dejection put my hands on my hips. I waited for a few seconds, hoping she’d thaw and let me in, before walking off to find a phonebox, my last hope, without a clue how I would use it to solve the problem.

Earlier I left Anna snoozing on her sofa in good time to reach Chris - a dear friend, over from his home in Hong Kong for a rare visit.

I caught the train to Clapham and back past Balham to Hayward’s Heath to collect the car. I punched the postcode into the sat nav and picked the top of the two displayed options.

Off we go. Lots of time. Good planning Adam.

I’m going to be early so I text Chris – he says it’s fine and they’re looking forward to seeing me. Then the phone beeps to warn me it’s going to run out of battery soon. Shit, no charger. No problem, I’m on my way – I know where I’m going and I don’t really need it.

I get to the place as directed...

This isn’t right, I think. Plainly not right.

I check the sat nav and realise it’s actually at the nearest place it could find to the postcode. I turn to the phone. Phew, it’s alive. Chris has text me the road name and number too. In it goes, and up pops a new destination which appears to be a match – 15 minutes away. Phone off to save battery – error. I’ll be a bit late, but not by a lot.

I arrive in Tonbridge nearly half an hour later thanks to some Friday rush hour traffic and begin to engage seriously with the doubts that have been in my head for the last bit of the journey.

This isn’t right. It’s a council estate. Tom, Chris’ brother, is well off.
(Later I’ll realise Hopgarden Road isn’t in the same place as Hopgarden Lane...)
I’ll check the phone. On... On?... Cummon. ON!

Late, lost and phone alone.

Back in Tonbridge the first phone box was occupied by a foreign woman early into a broken discussion over a bill.

The second box was empty. Bitter about its unpopularity it swallowed a pound in paltry exchange for letting me know Dad’s was empty but the answer phone was on.
I drove home... to plug my mobile in and call Chris and explain why I wasn’t there.

After the fruitless Tonbridge High St plus phonebox foray I’m spent. Tired, seriously hung over, miles and miles from home, unpopular and unable to apologise to anyone for at least another hour... I give up and re-enter the rush hour traffic, homeward bound.
A fucking mare.

No comments: