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Friday, 25 June 2004

Aprille is the cruellest month


Topic: Shy Lux


A Tuesday in April:
My sister was meant to ring when she set off from Cambridge, so I could meet her at Victoria. I usually don't do touristy stuff with her, so we'd talked about going to the Wallace Collection or the John Soane museum, perhaps. All very relaxing.
Unfortunately, I'd taken a snooze pill at midnight the day before, and responded to no external stimulus for some time. I remember waking very briefly, and noticing how different medicated sleep is from normal sleep, because if I closed my eyes, the rest of the world was just wiped out entirely, and doesn't exist.
Normally, you sink back into sleep during a lie in, enjoying the physical sensations of not jumping, gulping, rushing, stressing. On medication, you shut your eyes, the world isn't there any more, and you don't remember that it ever was.
And that goes double for alarm clocks.

When she rang from Victoria station, asking if I'd be long, I was finally awoken, but so disoriented I couldn't make sense of myself, let alone which way was up. Swearing profusely, I arranged to meet at Starbucks in Marylebone High Street, instead, which I dimly implied was somewhere opposite Baker Street tube station.
Only it isn't.

I hurtled out of the house towards the station at a billion miles per hour, leaving a trail of destruction and forgotten maps, telephones, cash, etc, behind me. Didn't even realise why that might be a problem till Bond Street, about an hour later.
As I began to finally wake, the red mist cleared enough to remember that Regent's Park is the stop for Marylebone High Street, that it's a good half an hour's hike from Baker Street, that an arsey neighbourhood meant coffee shops with no easily visible signs outside, in fact that the only reason I thought that Starbucks to be any sort of landmark at all was that I tended to turn a sharp vehicular right past the leather sofa on my way to my secret cheap parking spot in Spanish Place.
None of which is that obvious to someone without a car who doesn't live in the capital. Whom you can't contact by phone because of course you don't write your phone numbers down anywhere, you'll always remember your damn mobile.

I waited an hour in the cafe with no sign in a street a good half an hour from where I'd asked her to get off the tube. Stretching my reality-deprived synapses as far into logic as I could I realised that if you walk directly ahead from Baker Street, there is, in fact, a Starbucks. Groaning ensued.

I dashed towards the other Starbucks - the only phone number I could remember was my parent's, and that was tenuous, as they never listen to their answerphone. Recalling the vague mention of the Wallace Collection, I realised that it was halfway between the two cafes, and desperately dived in there to see if serendipity could give me a fucking goddamn break for once.

My experiences with head honcho at the Ritz had encouraged me to believe that if I spilled the whole sorry tale to the museum security guard, at worst, I'd end up a heritage industry anecdote, so I did my best. "Has anyone who looks a bit like me been in?"
It wasn't the most humiliating. Just close.

But by the time I'd done a fast cycle of the entire Collection to make sure, and realised that writing a quick blog in the visitor's book (another embarrassing moment becomes a matter of public record, huh?) weren't the most effective sister-tracing decisions I'd ever made, she walked in the doors. Only mildly furious, in fact, given that I was effectively three hours late, and had been within a whisker of giving up and going home.

So spending the day tramping dourfaced past limitless number of renaissance paintings, getting wet, sulking through a torpid I-Max cartoon about Big Haired Rock Musicians who get Haunted by their Mothers, then taking her out to the wilds of Sainsbury's New Cross - that will all have restored amity and fellow feeling. Made up for my egregious wrongs. No, no, I'm sure.

Best Blo'te of the Day So Far: La Noiraude
"So, the optometrist.
He was old and grumpy; he lived in some kind of dusty-smelling dark lair. Or so it seemed at the time.
I was a quiet child, but not a very compliant one. I was even less compliant when scared. On that day, I was terrified. He shouted at me, grabbed me by the arm and forced me to sit on the examination stool.
To cut short ten minutes of ordeal, in terror I peed on the stool - not out of spite, although the idea is appealing - simply out of fear. I would like to say at this point that I graced his stool with a copious stream of urine - but that would be lying. It was more the pitiful letting go of the true fearful."

This page graced by sarsparilla at 3:23 PM BST
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