Thursday 12th July 2018
The continuing saga of my incredibly exciting diary.
The heatwave continues here in Somerset. We continue to say things to each other and anyone we meet such as: ‘My goodness! It’s like being Abroad, isn’t it?’ And: ‘Well, isn’t it hard now to imagine all that snow
we had a few months ago?’ I continue to assert that I Like Hot Weather.
I attend the gym for Monday evening torture which is Spin (static cycling, bearing as much resemblance to real cycling as Donald Trump does to a President. Or a human being. More on D Trump later). This is followed by an hour of Body Pump. Despite the air conditioning am instantly transformed into my alter-ego, Sweat Woman, whose superpower appears to be making lakes of salty water out of very little effort. I literally only have to lift a hand-weight off its cradle and walk across the studio with it in order to erupt into a human fountain of most unattractive sweat. Interested in discovery, made for the one thousandth time, that I sweat most profusely from my inner-elbows and the back of my head. Would dearly like to ask other participants about their hot-spots but fear this may be misinterpreted. Observe that 90% of participants are not even glowing.
Turn thoughts to dinner but am distracted by the pain in my back caused by the new gym top I have bought and am wearing for the first time. It has a solid front section but the back is what they call ‘crochet’ – in fact a series of knots, making the back totally see-through and rather pretty. Model was shown wearing improbably tiny crop-top bra thing under this but I, of course, wear a full singlet. On lying down on my bench in order to participate in chest track, I am completely overcome by the sharp pain each knot causes me to experience, worsened by the addition of a few extra kilograms of weights. Thus spend entire track wriggling about on my bench as I try to ease the growing discomfort. In the end I sit up and pull the back up to my neck, causing Lily to roll eyes almost totally round and out of her head in manner of horror film effect.
Leave modestly air conditioned gym and almost faint from heatwave that hits me as I stagger to my non-air conditioned car.
Am dressed in shorts and tee-shirt for gardening in Continuing Heat Wave when Very Exciting Parcel arrives. A favourite website of mine has been having a sale; and a coat which I desired most fervently last winter had been reduced – so I ordered it. Courier has no sooner swung out of the garden, when I rip the parcel open and try on the coat. It is a knee-length Parka style padded coat – very padded, like a duvet. It also has – and this is the best bit – a HUGE hood that is fully (fake) fur lined and also has a great big Hollywood style (fake) fur trim all round. I zip the coat up to my neck and with bare legs and flip flops, pirouette around the garden in manner of Judy Garland, skating in Meet Me In St Louis. This admittedly very warm modelling assignment is interrupted by sudden entrance into garden of Post Man. Current Post Man is almost entirely silent at best of times but with 2 years of nurture I have coaxed Silent Post Man from furtive head-down nods to occasional monosyllabic exchange of ‘right?’
Which is returned with a grudging ‘arr’.
As SPM swiftly takes in the scene and wordlessly extends post to me on the path, I realise that all this work has been undone in one unfortunate encounter.
I set off to travel to Scotland. I am going there with a colleague to do some work. In the face of prolonged and energetic resistance from me, Colleague has insisted that we will ‘let the train take the strain’ as it is put to me, instantly recalling highly misleading 1980s British Rail media ads. Tell Colleague that, as a very experienced train traveller, I know this is huge mistake; reinforce this with true anecdotes about how, when a complex train journey Goes Wrong, it always has the capacity to transform itself into a gigantic clusterfuck. Urge colleague, whose idea of Public Transport is limited to Business Class air travel and fond memories of the old red London buses when he was small and more – um – tolerant, that he will not like it and may not like the inevitable interaction with other people. I do not prevail. So, I set off to drive to the Midlands, meet Colleague, and set off on a 3-train, 2-taxi journey to the west coast of Scotland.
Journey begins well, with train being on time. We even have some friendly interaction with an American family who are from Chicago and are, completely inexplicably, including Llandudno in North Wales in their itinerary. The family consists of fairly elderly grandparents and two really cheerful teenage girls. They have (perfectly rational) fear and mistrust of the railways in the UK but we reassure them that they are on the Right Platform, as they must change at Crew. As they prepare to board the train, with their giant set of luggage, I feel utmost pity for them. At least all they will see of Crew will be the sullen railway station (Brief Encounter it is not) but really, Llandudno? I ask them why?
Their reasons – family related – seem to me to be too flimsy to support this diversion from London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, Edinburgh, Dublin and Paris. My reservations – and Colleague’s utter silence on topic of Llandudno – penetrate their awareness. They ask us if we know Llandudno well. Colleague, who confines personal travel to Global Exotic Locations, has naturally never been there and thus does not break monastic stance, but I again most naturally, have. Is it lovely? I murmur ‘…Well…The Great Orm…?’ and have vivid flashback of last trip to Llandudno, conducted entirely in thin but penetrating drizzle of the kind that North Wales does so well in August…Realise that they now think The Great Orm is a huge native bird. Happily we part to find our booked seats.
Can see that Colleague thinks all my warnings were mere female hysteria and baseless. He thinks this as he has booked us First Class seats. If I travelled First Class, which I never do, maybe I too would be more enthusiastic about trains. We are plied with free things, mainly water for me, and we arrive in Glasgow almost on time after 4.5 hours. I have knitted most of a mitten and listened to a very good portion of current audio-book. Glasgow, like the rest of the UK, is glorying in Continuing Heat Wave. It turns out that the railways station is basically a giant greenhouse and Colleague seeks non-existent shade or preferably air-conditioned lounge. Continuing Heat Wave has had a very unfortunate impact on Scottish railway network, it being even more unaccustomed to warm weather than we are in Somerset. The rails have all buckled and made the points stop working. This is, at least, the gist, as far as I can tell from the hilarious interaction that I witness (from a safe distance) between Colleague who could easily have been the first Radio Announcer for the BBC, and Glaswegian station man. At length he establishes that the trains are shagged. I begin my ‘told you so’ comments with a murmured pianissimo
introduction which will escalate to fortissimo crescendo
by following day.
Encourage Colleague to sprint for train to Ayr. Ignore his complaint that ‘it is a stopper’ and urge him to join me as it is the only train that appears to be leaving for The West. I am getting on anyway. First Class options have, of course, no further place this being A Stopper. Wrestle with conflicting emotions. On one hand, am delighted that this late train with no air conditioning and which will stop at eleventy-nine places, is also populated with 100s of hot commuters and also vast extended family (3 adult woman, at least 8 children and infants), all in full voice, thus proving me Right. On the other hand, I am also having to endure the journey. The heat has understandably taxed the patience of all the children and their carers. A chorus of alternate shrieks and screams clearly tests patience of Colleague to the very limits of its endurance. Insert head-phones and close eyes. Navigate Colleague through final and lengthy stage of train journey for the day as we gaily board the train to Girvan. I consume improbably huge quantity of cold sausage and chopped up raw veggies, which is my favourite train picnic. I do this despite knowing I will (if we ever arrive) be given excellent dinner by Client in a few short hours, but neither this knowledge, or the frank displeasure of Colleague, or the open staring of fellow travellers can divert me from eating in manner of starving prisoner, just released.
Query with Colleague which manner of onward transportation he has arranged from Girvan station to hotel, this journey being All His Doing. He is confident of cab rank. I am confident, as veteran of many rural stations all over the UK, that this will not exist. Wonder, as we emerge from hot train onto bloody boiling station at Girvan, to learn that there is no cab rank, if ‘Me Being Right’ will ever lose its shine. Answer: no, never. Summon taxi via Google and iPhone in which neither Tom (of Tom’s Taxis; I personally think the plural is probably anticipatory, but do not say so to Tom) or I really understand each other but he does understand Trump Turnberry Hotel and Girvan Railway Station, and I understand Five Minutes, aye? I await taxi in shade across the road as Colleague rattles locked front door of apparently abandoned railway station.
Arrive, 2 hours late, at Trump Turnberry Hotel. Beauty of the west coast of Scotland – or at least, this bit of it, is undeniable. I have now been travelling for 11 hours. A flight, plus drive to airport and from airport to hotel would have been more like 4.5. I am, as ever, Right. This is of no comfort as it does nothing to ease my fatigue. Spend very enjoyable and informative evening, and all of following morning with Client which is holding meetings at the hotel.
Take many photos of the Trump Hotel and also interrogate staff about POTUS and his role at this hotel. Corporate memo has clearly been received and understood by all staff, who think Donald is A Good Thing for the hotel and that his son is Lovely. The building is lovely, the location is unbelievably beautiful, despite being marred by Golf Course, but the addition of Trump Trademark giant fountains where water erupts from all the usual and also some very unexpected orifices or outlets, and a lot of gold decor does strike an odd note. However, it is the nicest hotel room I have ever stayed in, and it is a bazillion (Trump terminology) times nicer than the last hotel I stayed in
, chosen by Colleague. Also, the food was absolutely delicious, though I was unable to do proper justice to Posh Dinner being still very full of cold sausage and veggies, horsed down on last leg of travel.
after very productive meeting with Client, we depart and anticipate enjoying all the delights of the previous day, only backwards and with no cold sausages. I intervene and get rid of the Girvan to Ayr bit by insisting on taxi. Continuing Heat Wave has continued to modify the railway tracks and though our train is not cancelled, the previous one and several others are, thus making our train Very Busy. Hilariously, the train operator, quite rightly in my view, suspends the classification of the train (i.e., anyone can sit anywhere) so the anticipated benefits of First Class are somewhat diluted. Train is tortuously slow. We arrive in Birmingham about 1.5 hours late. I drive home, in state of relieved bliss, but am so ravenously hungry, I almost give in to overpowering desire to order and eat 3 Burger King Whoppers (or whatever). Do not do so as believe this is favoured dinner of POTUS. And look what that did for him.
lie down a lot. Doze at times and wonder if past 22 + hours spent driving, on trains and in taxis, with just a few hours in a Trump hotel in between, was just a dream. Discovery of last cold sausage in lower regions of handbag indicates that it was real. Discard sausage but regret that I did not find it the evening before on drive home.