Saturday, August 08, 2009

9.45 to Shoeburyness

Mrs R and I are now the proud owners of a two-bedroomed cottage in God's Own Country. The deal on our little nest went through on Friday after we spent a feverish last week making sure all the finances were sorted and forms signed.
But the move was not without alarm - literally.
As I was up in London working on the Screws, my lovely wife took possession of the keys this morning and then set off with anticipation. There was only one nagging doubt in her mind... the estate agent couldn't find the alarm code.
When she opened the door the inevitable happened - alarm went off and there was no way she could stop it. The previous owners were unavailable by phone and the next door neighbour (who might have been able to throw light on the situation) was nowhere to be seen. Mrs R pressed all manner of buttons without luck as she managed to raise the entire Stapleton population from their Saturday morning slumbers. Welcome to the neighbourhood.
Eventually, after half an hour of ear-piercing racket, the estate agent text through the alarm code and peace prevailed in the sleepy little village on the outskirts of Bristol.

Earlier in the week we had gathered exactly the amount of cash we thought we needed for the deposit, only to be told by our solicitor that we were two grand short. After feverish discussions about how on earth we could make up the difference I decided to inquire exactly how we got our sums so hopelessly wrong.
It transpired that the entire solicitor's bill had been added to the overall payment, which was fine. I explained to her that I had intended to pay that by credit card after the sale had gone through. I couldn't believe my ears when she said: "Oh we don't have any facility for credit card transactions." My God, it was like travelling back in time to the days of Dickens and Messrs Scroat, Stote and Gobshite esq.
It meant juggling about with various different accounts, but thankfully it was all sorted in the end.

So back to London for me and I had an interesting experience on Friday night.
Having opted to stay on for a couple of beers with my new colleagues at the Wilted Rose so that I didn't spend 20 minutes waiting on a deserted platform at Limehouse, I eventually turned up for my train back to the Fat Kid's house with barely time to spare.
I must say the Friday night 9.45 Fenchurch to Shoeburyness train journey is one that will be stamped on my brain for some time.
Firstly, there were far more people on the train than I expected. Secondly, they were all quite noisy. Thirdly, a large proportion of them were drunk.
As we travelled through charming places like West Ham, Barking, Upminster, West Horndon and Laindon I couldn't help but earwig a conversation between two dyed-in-the-wool Essex girls.
One of them spent a large percentage of time on the phone to her boyfriend while mouthing things to her friend. She then looked stunned, her mouth dropping open as the person on the other end of the line continued to talk.
Afterwards, she said: "Oh, my boyfriend's dad has cancer."
A little while later, when the boyfriend rang again - obviously to inquire if she would be visiting him that night - she very subtly asked: "Hmm, who is there? It won't be much fun will it and I am very hungry. No I think I'll just go home tonight."
There followed a very interesting discussion about children. "They're lovely an' all but I caan't imagine spending all that time with them."
As we approached Thorpe Bay she was on the phone ordering a taxi. Her mate said: "But ya only live round the cawnaa!"
"Yeah, but I daan't wanna get raped, do I?" came the reply.

At this stage, desperate for some relief having supped three pints an hour early, I decided to visit the convenient convenience on the train.
Big mistake. I reached the carriage and pressed the button on the toilet door but it didn't open, so I moved around to see what the problem was, promptly slipping in a large pool of purple coloured vomit and managing to splash my shoes and the trousers of my new suit. Fantastic.
I doubt I'll be catching the same train again any time soon.

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