A tiring Saturday

Filed under: Uncategorized — iain @ 22:04:29

The sun hasn’t visited in quite a while. I refer not to the daily newspaper, which visits its subscribers every day, but the glowing ball of fire in the sky which Cambridge residents may recall seeing in March and April. It hasn’t been much in evidence over the last month or so but clear skies on Friday hinted at a fine weekend in prospect.

This is just as well, since I had to get up at 0600 for a train to London and not having to wear a jacket or cart an umbrella around are not inconsiderable advantages when operating in such inhospitable timezones.

The early start turned out to be in vain, though I couldn’t have known that as I cycled to the train station in time for the 0645 to Kings Cross. What I could have known is that if you leave your bike at the train station then it is likely to be remain there until you collect it, and that when you can’t find it outside your house you shouldn’t immediately assume that "it’s been stolen." But that’s another story.

My plan was to pitch up at Sinclaires at 0900 to collect my car which was in for a service, then drive to Birmingham to meet GaryB who was viewing an Elise in my old haunt of Selly Oak. Gary was exactly like I had been in December. He’d wanted an Elise for months, had finally cobbled together the money to buy one, had scoured the classifieds – even seen a duffer as I had – and now had a viewing arranged with a very nice looking motor. My job was going to be to a mix of finding fault with the car, so that a healthy discount might be negotiated, and in Gary’s own words "stop me from stuffing the cash through the guy’s letterbox and yelling ‘Sell me your car!’"

I stepped off the train at Harold Wood to be greeted by a welcome – and an unwelcome – sight. The sun was well and truly out and it was twenty minutes before Sinclaires would open their doors. A nice morning stroll was on the cards. I entered the address into my satnav and waited for it to warm up and acquire its satellite signals. It was at this moment that the aforementioned unwelcome sight made its appearance. One of my fellow passengers strode off the train and towards the exit. I paid him no great heed as I watched the satnav calculate the route to Sinclaires. I paid him more heed when I looked up and saw him sitting on the steps with his head in his hands. And his trousers round his ankles.

I wasn’t sure what was more worrying: the fact that a man was sitting on a train station stairway in his Y-fronts or the fact that either no one else had noticed this or was treating it with the indifference that only familiarity can bring. Needless to say I set off at a good pace.

Sadly I was soon to lose all the time made up with my early start and the hasty final leg of my journey. The staff at Sinclaires had to drive their customers’ cars out of storage and on to their forecourt. Mine was third in line. When it was finally brought out there was an unfortunate misunderstanding regarding the nose badge which had vanished from the front of my car. They had recorded the car as coming in without the badge and after I pointed out the mistake it took a good twenty minutes or so for them to locate and affix a new one. By the time I left I was already almost an hour behind schedule and I eventually pulled in for fuel at South Mimms with the satnav showing an ETA in Birmingham of 1215. I had no choice but to call Gary and tell him I wouldn’t be able to make it.

Back in Cambridge I went into town to buy a suit for my sister’s wedding then proceeded to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the afternoon. The early start and drive back from London had left me barely able to stay awake. I called Andy Pearce, whom I was supposed to meet at the Elm Tree to see the Hot Club of Cambridge in concert, and explained that I was dead on my feet. "Does this mean you don’t fancy the pub tonight?" he asked. "No you don’t understand," I replied, "It means that relaxing with a pint of beer is possibly the best thing that I could do."

This was definitely the right decision. The Hot Club were a very pleasant surprise. I knew nothing at all about them, not even the style of music they played; Andy said only that they were "good." He was right.

The gig was followed by a mediocre curry which I will not accord undue credit by describing further. A very long, if ultimately unproductive, Saturday was over.

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