My last show finished this time last week. Well, actually, technically, it *started* this time last week and it ended in about an hour’s time last week. I can’t quite remember where I left you at the last blog post, but I assume it was sometime around Tuesday? Ok, I just cheated and checked. It was definitely Tuesday.
Wednesday was more packing up with Underbelly and then a staff party in the evening, which ended with me and two of my workmates walking home through the beautiful Edinburgh Meadows together. One of them was from Manchester, which inspired me to sing Oasis songs at the top of my lungs all the way home. I’m sure she was pleased. Though, to be fair, she was egging me on by calling out suggestions of which songs to sing next and asking things like, ‘What was that song about the bun in the oven?’ (FYI, it was ‘She’s Electric’, which I remembered at 3am after many free drinks and I think I should get many life bonus points for not only remembering the name of the song, but also most of the remaining lyrics. My friend disagreed as she felt I lost many points for not remembering the opening lines to ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, forcing her to look them up on her phone. I only needed a little prompt though and then I remembered EVERYTHING. Definite life bonus points)
I dragged myself out of bed at 7am the next morning to get to the train station at 9am for a 9:30am train. I was well-impressed with myself, getting on board, organising my many bags, settling in my seat, getting out my book (‘Them’ by Jon Ronson) and iPod (‘The Unthanks’ extensive collection – I thought it was appropriate considering I was travelling through Northumbria). I even popped out to Caffe Nero and got myself a drink before the train started. In other words, I thought I was all over it. ‘It’ being ‘train travel from Edinburgh to London.’ Sure I felt a little melancholy about the end of the fringe, about the fact that I hadn’t managed to climb Arthur’s Seat on this visit, about going back to London with no job in sight, but it didn’t last very long, because I was soon fast asleep.
I woke up just outside of Doncaster around midday, so approximately an hour and a half before I was supposed to arrive at London. I didn’t quite know what I was going to do with myself once I got into London. I had already decided to brave the tube with all my luggage, because the taxi was just going to be too expensive. But apart from that, what does one do when one arrives back to London with no job and no creative projects on the horizon? I thought to myself idly that it would be kind of nice if this train journey was longer so I didn’t have to deal with all that empty afternoon space in London. But, *sigh*, I thought, I have never once been delayed on a British train. Guess there’s no chance of that happening.
Of course, you shouldn’t think things like that because it will only encourage the gods/alien beings/12ft lizards in charge of the world to SCREW YOU OVER. Because they are sick, sick bastards who take joy in your pain. Approximately 10 minutes after my idle and generally warm thoughts towards the British rail system, my train ground to a halt at a level crossing just outside of Doncaster. It sat there for half an hour, as our sad-sounding train conductor updated us with the fact that she had no updates (do they go through training to sound sad like that? ‘And this is the tone of voice you should use when the train has stopped and you don’t know why and your passengers are attempting to open the emergency exits and walk the remaining 20 metres into Doncaster’). There were 3 large semi-trailers parked in front of the closed gates at the level crossing and I couldn’t figure out if they were happier or more frustrated for not getting the ‘updates-with-no-updates’ that we were privy to in the train. I stared at the man in the first semi-trailer. He stared back. Neither of us gave anything away.
About 40 minutes later, we limped into Doncaster, now happy in the knowledge that overhead lines had been pulled down somewhere near Retford (where is bloody Retford?) and that it would take ‘a very long time’ to get to London today. They offered to take us back to Newcastle ‘or further North’, if we preferred, or we could all get on a different train to King’s Cross that would not be going past Retford and therefore should be able to get to London. Of course, everyone chose the second option. So, our pretty much full train smushed onto another pretty much full train and started the slow, slow procession to London. Unsurprisingly, I couldn’t get a seat, so I piled up all my luggage in the space between two carriages and stood next to it. An hour and a half of standing later and I gave up and sat down on my luggage, even though it was highly uncomfortable and I was possibly breaking various precious things stowed in my bags. But, the train, my hang-over and the relentlessly chipper ex-Edinburgh student sitting next to me were all slowly wearing me down (seriously, woman, not everything that you say needs to be punctuated with a giggle! You don’t need to tell us all about what you bought at the cafe! You don’t need to tell us how your mother told you to get the 9am train! You don’t need to talk to that child – she has headphones on! She doesn’t care! None of us care! Be quiet! QUIET I SAY!)
At 5pm, we finally got off at King’s Cross and were handed a leaflet about how East Coast trains were going to make it up to us, which placated me slightly. Of course it was now peak hour and I decided that attempting the tube was madness and what I needed instead was a mini-cab. But I couldn’t locate one. So, I went across the road to St. Pancras, swearing under my breath at all the pedestrians who failed to get out of my way (Seriously, people, I have two large bags balanced on a tiny gardening trolley. I have a backpack and another bag hanging over my arm. I am bent over like a go-kart racer. Who do you think is in an easier position to change direction? NO, NOT ME YOU DICKHEAD, THE ANSWER IS YOU, NOW MOVE YOUR ARSE BEFORE I RUN YOU OVER). I couldn’t find any min-cab services there either. I used the computer information point which helpfully told me the difference between the very expensive black cabs and the mini-cabs, but failed to offer the number of a mini-cab company. It’s times like these that I really think I should bite the bullet and get a smartphone. But, that not exactly being an option at that particular moment, I pushed my luggage to the manned information point and asked for a mini-cab number. The woman said they had no mini-cab numbers. My mouth dropped. I asked for clarification. She said that this station only provided black cabs so no mini-cabs should be working around the station at all and therefore they could not give me a mini-cab number. I was furious. I said, in my angriest and most sarcastic tone, ‘Well, thank you so much,’ pausing for dramatic effect (and to swivel all of my luggage around), but because this woman was in conversation with her colleague, she didn’t pick up on the sarcasm and she said, genuinely, ‘Not a problem at all.’ Which also meant she missed the furious, hissed end of my sentence – ‘YOU HAVE BEEN SO FUCKING USEFUL.’
At this point, I was shaking from exhaustion, hunger and sheer fury. I refused to use a black cab as it was peak hour and I wasn’t about to get caught in traffic with the metre running. But, I had no way of getting a mini-cab number. I saw a phone booth and moved to it hopefully, thinking they may have a cab company listed on the booth, or at least a directory assistance number. They did! I dialled it on my mobile phone and was promptly told I could not access that number from my Orange phone. The pay phone was a BT phone. If I was going to get directory assistance, I was only going to get it from an approved Orange source. Except, I had no way of finding out what that approved directory assistance Orange number was. CAPITALISM AND PRIVATISATION GONE MAD, PEOPLE! GONE MAD!
It had, by this time, gotten all too much and I collapsed in a crying heap near the trolleys. Of course, most people ignored me, which made me even more miserable and then led me to decide that all London people were shits and that I didn’t need their assistance anyway and they should all just bugger off. I decided to message some friends for help with a number for a mini-cab company, at which point a Londoner (well, ‘a person’, I can’t be certain they were from London) asked if I was ok. But I had so set myself against humanity that I merely muttered I was fine and refused to look up. I could tell by the way her feet were pointing that she stared at me for a good few minutes before going about her business, but I had no intention of allowing her to help me. Everyone else had been useless all day, I refused to believe she wasn’t also going to be useless. And annoying. And I didn’t want to use my last shreds of sanity and energy to explain everything to a useless, annoying stranger. So I ignored the probably nice, kind, helpful stranger and possibly made her very upset and confused just so I could continue thinking that all of humanity sucked arse. Oh well.
My lovely friends soon sent many messages with many mini-cab numbers and I rang one and they promised to get me a mini-cab within half an hour. I asked where the cab would arrive, as there are at least 3 entrances to St. Pancras station and the woman told me that she would get the driver to call me when he was near. I took a punt and stood outside one of the entrances that seemed most likely. 40 minutes later, getting worked up and exhausted again, I still hadn’t heard from the cab driver and tried to call them back. I got through to an automated message saying that my cab was very close and I should look for a particular make of car and licence number. That calmed me for a few minutes until I got a message telling me my cab had arrived, giving me the licence number and a description for a car that I couldn’t see ANYWHERE. So I then got worked up again, especially since the cab driver hadn’t called me and he was supposed to do so. Just as I was reaching a fever-pitch of worked-up-ed-ness, the cab driver called. He sounded a little annoyed. He told me he was there. At the entrance. At which point I pretty much lost my shit. I told him, voice quaking from fury and held back tears, that there was more than one entrance and he needed to tell me which entrance he was at. He told me he was at the main one, where all the cabs come. I snapped that the cabs come to many of the entrances and he had to tell me which street he was on. He told me he was on the ‘main street’. I told him he had to give me a name. He told me he would call me back. At which point I attempted to run through St. Pancras with all my bags (and all the pedestrians) to all the other entrances in order to find the cab before he got annoyed and drove away (I was convinced he was going to abandon me – I don’t know why). Of course, in my panic, I missed his 3 calls back to me, even though I was holding my phone in my hand. He finally got through on the 4th attempt and sounded about annoyed as I felt – ‘I tried to call you 3 times! I am on St. Pancras St’. I knew, because at this point I had walked out one of the entrances and finally seen him. I was annoyed, he was annoyed, it wasn’t a great start to the cab-customer relationship. But, we packed my things into the boot of the car and I got in the back seat and we started our slow process towards Clapham Common. It took an hour. I slept on the back seat whilst the cab driver listened to the debate on whether or not the UK should participate in air strikes against Syria and by the end of the drive we managed to be civil to each other.
Finally home, I dumped my things, said a cursory hello to my housemate and then headed out immediately for food. After a huge pizza, some olives and garlic bread, I began to feel more normal. Hell, I even started to relax a little. I fell asleep at 10pm and didn’t get out of bed until 9:30am yesterday.
Yesterday was lazy, but also a little unsettling. I had no job, I had no show to work on. I felt I should really take one day off before getting my life in order, but I didn’t really know what to do with myself during that day. I packed away all my clothes and then decided to go out to vote. And then, because I had nothing else to do and the weather was nice, I walked home from Australia House. Which took 2 hours. At least I built up a good appetite for my enormous Indian meal that night.
This morning, I have woken up with a horrible cold, which I am not at all surprised by. I tend to always get sick the minute I stop doing something. And this at least solves the problem of what to do with myself over the next two days. Bed rest. Books. Some TV. That’s it. The sun outside is glorious, but it is gloriously bright and giving me a glorious headache, so… the curtains are drawn and I am doing nothing that involves getting out of bed. I have drunk a green smoothie and taken many nurofen and now I will just lie back and close my eyes and wait for it all to go away.
After #EdFringe is nowhere near as fun as #EdFringe.