Just how grim can it get up north? (Actually, it's quite nice.) One woman's not-so-lonely journey into the Northern heartlands.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Just one of those days
I have had one of those days where you go with the flow or you go under. After a weekend with my achy-breaky mother and father, ("Mummy, you have been away 100 days," my 4-year-old told me when I got back,) I hared off to London for meetings about work. The builders started today but that was OK, my husband could take care of them. First warning that all would not be well was the fact that I discovered on the train, my mobile was dead; I decided that was alright because I did not have to ring anyone. Not until the train shuddered to a grinding halt and it emerged that someone had stolen the overhead lines on the track. Who would do that? What do you do with second-hand train lines? Start your own train company? Do you sidle up to a likely lad in your local boozer and go “Psst. Wanna buy a lot of electric cable - I mean, a lot? Like train track lot. Got a train track, have you?”
I get to my first meeting an hour late. It is an important meeting. I have not met the person before. I am already at something of a disadvantage because I am late. I am at even more of a disadvantage when I realise I have been waiting in her glass-walled office, examining the books on the shelves as you do, my back to the wide open plan seating area outside, with my skirt firmly tucked into my knickers. You are not telling me nobody saw that. You are not telling me people weren't emailing each other about the mad woman with her skirt in her knickers and deciding whether anyone was going to tell her or let her leave that way. You thought that just happened in sit coms didn’t you? Well, it happens in real life too. It happened to me. How I laughed.
Because I was running so late for the next meeting, I then missed my train home. That should have been it. But no. When I got into a cab to go round to a friend's house, I didn’t realise that I was actually speaking Yiddish or Portugese or a mixture of the two. Naturally enough, the cab-driver took me not to De Beauvoir road where I wanted to go but to Bouverie Road which is obviously how you say it in Portugese and several miles from where I wanted to be. Then, and really it would have been better if I had given up the ghost at this point, I rang my husband. The builders have discovered rotten roof joists in the arches we are converting. They may all have to be replaced(the joists rather than the builders). The builders had been on the job an hour before they made their discovery. One hour.
Posted by wife in the north at 10:33 PM
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I would get a rot specialist to have a look - builders notoriously find extra things to do. It's how they they actually make a profit.
But I can see you require a little coaching in travelling anywhere for a meeting in the UK nowadays. Leave an hour earlier than you need to. It means that whatever happens, you have a) something to talk about to break the ice ( Lucky I left early, only just got here on time/ Left early and it all worked perfectly, so I had time to have a look round your lovely town/office block whatever) or b)actually have time to be unstressed and ready for the odd knicker problem.
I hope they were those Damaris knickers which tie into a bow at the back...
Dear WitN, at the beginning of our enormous reconstruction project (the one that cost as much as the house did originally), much the same thing happened. The builder made the very first cut with his saw, turned his equipment off, and called me to say that he'd found something unexpected. A mere $10,000 later, we were back on track. The checks you continue to write become mere monopoly money; you deal with the ramifications later. Best of luck on getting through all of it.
This is beautiful stuff, funny (leaf f***ing collage) and sad (prawn cocktail).
Oddly, I've been thinking about Northumberland as a place to live when my family finally settle in England. My wife is strongly opposed (as she was to my plans for a honeymoon in Iran). I have forwarded her your blog; perhaps she'll come around...
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