Saturday, March 31, 2012

1

It had just gone 6.39pm.

I know this because, as ever, the train was two minutes late leaving the station, due no doubt to some unhelpful, selfish passenger holding the whole boarding process up while a temporary ramp was found for their sodding wheelchair.

Great, I thought. That's the connection missed at Lime Street.

Again.

Well done to you, Mr Bloody Unfortunate. You get to play at going the wrong way up a slide and I get to add another 30 minutes onto my bastard journey.

One nil to God.

Still, at least I have a table.

I shuffle over to the window and slam down the armrest with an angry loud bang, lest whoever comes to sit next to me a) should think me in any way welcoming or b) thinks my skinny arse doesn't deserve the same amount of room as their undoubtedly fat one.

An enormous woman duly sits down on my right.

And looks disapprovingly down her sweat-dampened nose as I extract from my M&S carrier bag one crisp, cold can of Vodka & Tonic.

I pop it open. Phssssh.

I can tell she's glaring at me in either disgust (I hope) or envy (I hope even more). Her face looks quite like the Angry Birds' Mighty Eagle.

I'm already a bit tetchy because my seven month old laptop that had to be sent off for a new hard drive hadn't been delivered back to work.

Except that's not entirely correct.

According to the tracking website, it was indeed delivered to work and signed for by someone called "Anderton".

We have no one in our business by the name of "Anderton".

We are in serviced offices but because I only remembered to check where the laptop was at 5.40pm, the reception staff - hopefully including someone by the name of Anderston - had gone home.

So I ring the repair company. But their answering machine informs me that they're "open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, please fuck right off".

I'll find out if it's been delivered here on Monday.

Otherwise I've been robbed. Which, knowing my luck, would seem the most obvious outcome.

Two nil to God.

But because I was expecting the laptop I'd left the iPad at home.

Stuck now with a mere Kindle - which was my best friend right up until the moment the iPad arrived and made it look like one of those charity plastic kids in calipers with a coin slot in his head that I always pretend not to see, a bit like buskers - I took a sip from the delightfully tangy V&T and begrudgingly flipped the bookreader open, ready to devour the second half of The Times.

It's needless to say, but yes, it wouldn't work.

Fully charged yesterday, but now kaput.

I raise my glinting tin of booze and tip a silent toast to the heavens.

Three nil to God.

The table adjacent to me - or which would be, were it not for the steadily humming mass of Mrs Fat - fills up. Three as a group, one alone.

The loner is immediately set up upon by The Three Cheeriest Cunts In The World.

Two of them are women. I did not catch their names. But we shall call them Jemima and Jemima. Both are "bubbly".

Their male companion is tall, with a blonde quiff, and Elvis Costello glasses. He thrusts his Cheerfully Enthusiastic Hand out at the loner and declares he is - and I feel my heart fluttering anxiously inside my chest as I recall this - "Toby".

Oh god, I think.

I might actually have to kill him.

Four nil to god.

Jemima and Jemima have brought "nibbles".

A selection of olives and sun-dried tomatoes and houmous and vegetable crisps and little breads and other things all from a shop called Cunts R Us.

They also have M&S tins, but theirs of course are Fancy Southern Types Gin & Tonic as against my miserable and now half-empty tramp piss juice.

They also have a bottle of fizzy stuff.

Toby and Jemima and Jemima start talking all at once.

Barking lines of Withnail and I at each other - "We've come on holiday by mistake!" - in accents carved somewhere in that specific part of the Home Counties where they churn out cunts like Coventry churned out cars (before the factories closed down and they all died).

After each booming reprisal they bray like convulsing donkeys, throwing their heads back like someone has yanked them by their hair.

Which is of course what I wished I was doing.

While slicing the new kitchen knife that I still haven't actually used across their blessed carotid arteries full of all that precious life-giving blood.

"DO YOU LIKE TAPAS?" they shriek at their unfortunate tablemate. "DO YOU? DO YOU? DO YOU? DO YOU MWAH TAPAS? WE LOVE TAPAS? DON'T WE TOBES? WE LOVE TAPAS DON'T WE?"

Tobes shrieks back: "LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT YAH! MWAH YAH!"

I realise I have not blinked for too long.

My eyes are paralysed by the sheer horror of what they are taking in.

My ears are begging for rape counselling.

And my eyes and ears are not alone. Mrs Fat is now staring at their spread in the way a stray dog stares at a lamb bone.

And it is not just me and Mrs Fat.

The train from Manchester Piccadilly to Liverpool was ram packed, each seat taken and the aisles stuffed with hot, knackered, want-to-go-home standing passengers.

All of them are now staring aghast at this bunch of utter wankers.

"TOBES! TOBES! TELL ME AGAIN ABOUT NAPLES!"

My vodka and tonic is finished.

"JUST CAN'T SAY ENOUGH JEMS JUST CAN'T SAY ENOUGH LOVE IT LOVE LOVE IT CIAOBELLA."

My hand blindly gropes for my emergency second tin. (They are only little, after all.)

"FANDABISSIMO!"

More braying. I blink, quickly, picturing the bore of a shotgun shattering through Tobes' forehead.

"SO WHAT DO YOU DO?" they all ask at the same time of the loner.

"I'm a student," he says, which should have been obvious, as he is wearing boating shoes and no socks and has comedy facial hair that he assumes makes him original.

He follows it up with the killer line: "A post-grad journalism student."

The shrieks go so high I swear I see one of the standing passengers at the far end of the carraige shatter into a thousand ice-sharp pieces.

"TOBES WANTS TO BE A JOURNALIST DON'T YOU TOBES DON'T YOU TOBES DON'T YOU."

And thus I spend the next 40 minutes listening to how VERY IMPORTANT it is that GHASTLY AWFUL JOURNALISM should be WIPED OUT like a PLAGUE but there is no need to worry BECAUSE TOBES KNOWS IT'S ALL OVER FOR THE TABLOIDS and oh yes TOBES CONTRIBUTES A LOT TO THE COMMENT IS FREE BIT OF THE GUARDIAN WEBSITE.

My second tin of tramp piss juice is also empty and I debate whether to tear one in two, slice my way through Mrs Fat and gouge each of their eyes out and using the holes to shove, letter box style, copies of the Sunday Sport.

But instead I get off at Lime Street.

My ears are ringing like they've been boxed.

I have indeed missed my connection.

Five nil to god.

But at least the bar at the station is open to bide away a balming half hour.

Five one.

"A bottle of Peroni, please," I ask the Dusky Maiden of Liquid Relief.

I take myself to the far end of the bar, back to everyone for peace and quiet, raise the bottle to my lips.

"TOBES! JEMS! JEMS! TOBES! MWAH ! MWAH ! MWAH ! MWAH !"

2

I'm off to Piccadilly now to catch the train home.

God help them all.