The centre of the known universe is at Reading station. No, poor benighted creature; didn’t you realise that the centre of the known universe can be found (at least as far as the media are concerned) in the C BB House? I have an entire wardrobe to exchange, buy, mark and parcel up asap for MIL, and I was awake for nearly 20 hours on Friday. Oh, and Leamington Spa station is unbelievably cold at 7 o’clock at night. But I was prepared – as you’ll read later.
Friday: Up at dawn as usual. Off to work as usual. Afterwards, I hurtle across town allowing enough time to have a ‘powder my nose’ as they say, grab a coffee and otherwise wake self up before catching the train to Godiva land.
One little thing; I’d completely forgotten about the timetable changes. Find that my train has been moved back by 20 minutes, leaving virtually no time for connection at the other end. Goodbye ‘comfort stop,’ goodbye coffee, on the advice of co-operative railway operative, I take the slow train to intermediate station mentioned above, brave smelly loos on the platform, grab packet of throat sweets and sandwhich and go in search of the Edinburgh train which instead of leaving from just down the platform, has now been moved over to Platform Eight! On reaching Platform Eight, have nice chat with older lady about the vagaries of train companies – the which shall remain nameless or not, as the case may be.
Train arrives. Acting on previous advice from kindly railway employee, head straignt for a certain coach (No, I’m not telling you which!) in which I know all the unreserved seats are situated. It works. I have a seat!! Yes, I realise we’re talking trains here – so what’s so unusual about having a seat, I hear you ask. Believe me, they are a rare breed in this neck of the woods.
Doze happily. Journey is greatly enlivened by the by now mandatory humorous announcement by the buffet car manager. I’m starting to positively look forward to these. Sadly, I can no longer remember Friday’s, but I can remember laughing, so it must have been funny.
Arrive at Godiva land on time. Heave self off into the city, passing an ‘interesting’ metal sculpture en route. A horse appears to be rearing up into a tree. Why? I look up into the tree and nobody is to be seen – which sort of puts paid to my theory that maybe Lady G’s horse had grown tired of bearing his charge and had tossed her away into the nearest convenient place.
Plunge into the shops. Today I am visiting MIL in her new care home for the first time. For reasons best known to the place from whence she came, half her wardrobe has disappeared. Or seems to have. Either way, what she has left is woefully inadequate according to the nice lady at the home. When I spoke to her beforehand I began to feel the same way a parent might feel being lectured by its child’s headteacher for not having the approved items on the official uniform list. So, urgent replacements are in order. An hour later I stagger out with an enormous carrier bag, hail a taxi and make my way first over to SIL’s place. Greeted by member of staff, who then goes off to find SIL. I sit and wait. And wait, and wait…. About half an hour later, and after at least one reminder, SIL finally appears. A bad day, apparently, and her main interest seems to be in whether I have remembered her supply of cigarrettes. So ten minutes or so later, I’m on the road again,.
Arrive at MIL’s care home. Greeted by the very nice lady. (And TBH, she is very pleasant. The place seems to match up to Mr M’s impressions of it and they really do seem to have the residents’ best interests at heart.) Go to find MIL. Have nice cup of tea. Chat. Then the tricky bit. Just as I’d anticipated and from bitter previous experience, the clothes will not do. Despite the fact that it is patently obvious both to me and to Nice Lady that they fit MIL, such is her conception of herself, that no, they do not. A tricky conversation ensues in which I start to feel like a piece of elastic being pinged, ponged and punged to and fro between two opposing parties. Ho, hum. Luckily I have the receipt tucked away safely. So, I can take the clothes back home (90 miles or so), catch another train into the nearest big city, exchange them, name tape them (and if I have any say in it, remove the wretched size labels!) bundlle them up, put them in the post….. Meantime, I pop out to the nearby shops to buy more essential toiletries.
Pop back. Repack my bag, having unpacked it several times to search for missing phone. Stuff in sundry Christmas presents that MIL says she cannot use… Stagger off to station to find have just missed the 4.24 train. Settle into cafe and am just phoning Mr M at home when see that 5.24 is now down as half an hour late. Ten minutes later, 5.24 is cancelled. Nice kind, railway employee informs me I have two choices: either to wait another hour for the 6.24 (now also due to be late arriving), or catch special coach to Leamington Spa – due to leave in 15 minutes. Given that I’m coffeed out, and my bladder can only hold so much, I decide to plump for the latter option.
Rather more than 15 minutes later we’re all waiting outside the station when a thought strikes me. Life may be grim indeed – but look on the bright side, Miffy. In the event that we should end up stranded in Godiva land for the night, I have the essentials right there with me. All a girl needs in an emergency such as this is clean undies. And that’s exactly what I have. Not just one pair of knickers, more like 15!!
The thought takes me right through the coach journey, tempering the accompaniment of Radio One and the blanket coverage of the latest goings-ons in the BB house.
At risk of being struck down by a thunderbolt – God moves in mysterious ways indeed, and His sense of humour is becoming distinctly oddball…
To be continued…