After hideous ordeal previous evening spent travelling back from Clapham Junction in extremely unwelcome company of maniac Russian female with banshee hair bellowing into mobile phone to someone apparently east of the Urals with hearing difficulties; elderly dotty Home Counties foursome talking tommyrot about voodoo and theatre; and bonkers bloke in beanie counting up coins like Ebenezer Scrooge in counting house, am looking forward to meeting F for 11.00 am Saturday breakfast at Café Rouge and Imperial Cup Day at local racetrack, Sandown Park. F ringing and texting from 08.30 am when leaving home base in Sydenham to a) ensure am actually out of bed, b) am getting ready, c) have left house and d) to tell me I will later be on knees in admiration asking ‘How do you do it, O Great One?’ in face of F’s betting success.
Unfortunately, F advised by Clapham Junction staff to take wrong connecting train so next phone call extremely irate as now he arriving half an hour late. Fortunately haven’t actually left house so not an issue for me. F say prophetically that things going too well up to that point. Decide best not to mention had gone back to bed and then slept through alarm but instead put on make-up at warp speed.
Freezing cold and financially unrewarding day at track, compounded and possibly caused (financial not weather) by favourite jockey Ruby Walsh staying home in Ireland, resting himself and dazzling smile for Cheltenham. Walk with F afterwards three-quarter of mile to Esher Station, and make effort at ticket office to redeem £60 spent on train tickets purchased whilst awaiting replacement annual season ticket brilliantly lost in Starbucks at Vauxhall Station.
Have letter of verification, which states redemption should be made at local station. Local station is Esher. Discover have left letter and tickets at home, so wave F off on journey back to Sydenham, pop back to house to collect paraphernalia and return to station, which by some miracle still open.
Bloke in ticket office, who has only known me for 10 years, studies letter suspiciously. Informs me that can only redeem £5.90, as only that amount for a South-West Trains ticket. Rest of £60 for Southern Trains tickets, which purchased at Victoria Station. Explain tickets are for South-West Trains, obviously, as annual season ticket for South-West Trains, live in South West Trains area, travelling to Clapham Junction on Southern Trains from Victoria where transferring to South West Trains, and am paying for whole journey, not stages, to cover journeys already paid for in advance by lost South West Trains annual season ticket which cover all Zones from South Kensington, including Victoria Station, but this cuts zero ice. Ticket office bloke rings up someone on his mobile, to confirm I will have to redeem other tickets at Victoria. ‘So I will have to go to Victoria?’ I say, tartly, in between removing a Welsh racegoer wearing a pearl-toned sheepskin jacket from my presence, who is invading body space in effort to hurry up process of ticket redemption. ‘That’s right,’ says ticket office bloke. I sign for the £5.90. Ticket office bloke says that, to save me time, he will leave receipt in the office. Have no idea what this means.
Now am commuting when not actually commuting.
Travel to Clapham Junction on train jam-packed with race goers and Yorkshiremen down from York to attend football match, where, not specified. In front of me, 12 Yorkshire blokes playing cards at 20p a leg; behind, 10 South London racegoers in acrylic ginger bubble perm wigs singing ‘I’m a Gin-Ger’ to the tune of ‘Ei-I-Addio’.
Collect remaining £54.10 at Victoria without further hassle and buy Coke to restore lost blood sugar.
Waiting by platforms for train to Clapham Junction where notice handsome young Doberman in company with tall, skinny, facially unfavoured black teenager and short, tubby Mediterranean-looking teenager, equally unfavoured. Skinny teenager starts mucking around with dog, playfully kicking it in the belly in order to incite it to bite his trainers. Stirred by this display of brilliant animal psychology, I bellow ‘Oy, stop kicking that dog’ whilst applying death-ray stare. Tall & skinny stops kicking dog and says ‘What is it to you? Is it your dog?’ Short & tubby says, possibly ironically, ‘She will call the RSPCA’. ‘Exactly’ I say, if somewhat inaccurately, continuing death-ray stare. Short & tubby cosies up to me, asking in annoying faux patois, ‘Has you got any pets?’ ‘Not any more,’ I say. ‘Did you have a dog?’ asks short & tubby. ‘Yes’, I say. ‘What did you have?’ ask short & tubby. ‘A beagle,’ I say, unfortunately starting to laugh. ‘That is a Doberman’, says short & tubby in case I have mistaken it for a Yorkshire terrier, ‘She needs to be toughened up. She is loyal to him.’
Doberman is cowering in corner. Continue death ray stare. Tall & skinny teenager puts Doberman back on lead and all three trot off to far side of platforms. Feel sick and sit down on railing six inches above ground to drink Coke. Continue directing death ray stare in between swigs of Coke. When train arrives, note that display of affection now taking place towards dog by owner, patting it on head and saying ‘Good girl, good girl.’
Final death ray stare applied as pass carriage where teenagers and dog ensconced.
Sit down on train. Girl in corner on mobile, starting monologue about Oyster card and shopping. Nightmare scenario opens when good looking dark haired fleshy bloke and two girls in green jackets of different hue get on. Dark haired bloke sits across aisle from me and starts deadly monologue at ear-drilling volume, in German. Lean back in seat with eyes closed and say ‘No doubt this monologue will continue all the way to bloody Clapham Junction.’ ‘It is a business proposal’ says German, switching to immaculate English. Now have to listen to deadly monologue about some business crap in English. Monologue continues to Battersea Park. Girl opposite continues equally deadly dull monologue on mobile phone, never actually allowing person on other end to get word in. Why is it that you never get interesting people making phone calls? Temper vastly improved at sight of bouncing Indian chubby-chopped baby in pram sporting high-fashion ski hat.
Have two minutes at Clapham Junction to catch connection, so bound up stairs in Italian ankle boots to platform 11, stunning two good-looking British Transport police with balletic grace, and less good-looking train information bloke, coming down stairs. Hope none of them notice when fall flat on face on stairs in manner normally adopted by devout Moslems at prayer in mosque.
Train information bloke does notice and asks if OK. ‘Fine’, I say, athletically springing to feet to disguise smashed kneecaps. Stifle groans of agony long enough to get on train and collapse.