Friday, 28 October 2011

The adventures of Clem and Aspers - The train

Sometimes through work you meet someone who is right up your street.  Meeting Jo was exactly like that, we clicked straight away, and have been friends now for over a year.

Jo has recently moved to Newcastle to do her M.A so we haven't seen each other for a couple of months.  We talk on the phone most nights however it's not the same, so we planned a day trip to Edinburgh. Its especially special because the date for said trip is 3 days before my birthday.

So today is the day, logistically we've planned this with military precision and gone over the plans with a fine toothed comb.

THE OVER PLANNED PLANS
  • Jools to make a selection of 'luxury sandwiches' containing 'luxurious fillings' and made with 'high class' bread/buns.
  • Jo to provide other 'buffet items' namely 2 scotch eggs (full size, party/fun/mini scotch eggs will not be tolerated). Other 'buffet items' are at the discretion of Jo.
  • Jools to join the 10.00am train to Edinburgh at Darlington Station
  • Jo to join same train only at 10.35am at Newcastle station
  • Neither party to miss said train
  • Both Jools and Jo to provide a selection of bottled real ale, for journey/day out.
  • Jools to provide a small discreet bottle opener
  • All items should be well packed for easy transportation around Edinburgh
  • Jools and Jo to refer to each other as a)Jools and Jo b)Ju Ju and Jo Jo and c) Aspers and Clem throughout the day.
As you'll no doubt agree there is nothing in the above plans that would cause anyone too many problems......

So at 9.57am Phil pushes me out of a moving car in front of the station and knowing I only have 3 minutes to get to the platform I attempt a weird run/skip through the station weighed down by my handbag, the picnic bag (luxury bread is very heavy) and trailing my mac along the filthy floor. Amazingly I make it thru the complicated barrier onto the platform just as the train is pulling in.

I know I have to be in carriage C so instead of getting on at the right carriage I panic and get on at coach H.  This is particularly stupid for two reasons:
  1. It is clearly much easier to walk down a train platform that to walk through 9 carriages of a busy train.
  2. Walking through 9 carriages with a satchel, a huge bag, full of enough sandwiches to feed coaches H-C, and a mac which inexplicably keeps wrapping itself round the arms of the seats and dragging me back is not only painful to me but to the 71 unsuspecting passengers who I essentially hit over the head with a bag full of cooked meat and bread.
I make it to coach E (sorry, my apologies, dreadfully sorry, oh your poor head, duck! etc.....) only to be met with a sealed metal door.  The train is now moving and I have no idea how to get through to make it to coach C.

I stay very calm and speak to the man who is stocking up his refreshment trolley, 'Good morning my dear fellow, I can see that you are pre-occupied stocking up your trolley with value for money snacks and beverages, please can you advise how one gets through the sealed metal door to allow one to reach Carriage C, oh and please can I purchase one of your four finger kitkats for the bargain price of £2.25'

I'm lying. I basically scream at the poor man.  'I'm in coach E. I need to be in coach C. It's through that sealed door.  Is this a train or the sodding Crystal Maze.  Get that door open now, I'm meeting my arsing friend at Newcastle on coach C'

He says 'You can't go through there, you'll have to 'dismount' (when did anyone last use that word) at Newcastle and enter the other half of the train. 

I take a heavy multigrain bap, (filled with finest yorkshire ham and pease pudding) out of my bag and club him repeatedly over the head until he is dead. I then steal all his kitcats and cans of beer and take a seat in the nearest carriage.

Not really. I just sit down and text Jo:

'Am on train however I have an issue. The seats are in coach C, tried to walk thru from coach H and I can't! Coach C is on a totally different train, attached to this one but still different....I have been advised to get off at N'castle and remount same, yet different, train'

Jo replies:

'HAHAHA REMOUNT THE TRAIN!!!. Look for me then, I have a suitcase sized bag with a photo of carrots on the front. I am also wearing tartan'

I assume Jo is winding me up. UNTIL I SEE HER ON NEWCASTLE STATION.  I know its Jo, why wouldn't I, however to the unknowing general public she looks like a hungry, scottish terrorist. She is indeed carrying an enormous bag of food, with a photo of carrots on the front and she's wearing a tartan scarf pulled up around her face.  Between her knitted beret and the scarf, only her eyes are visible.  On a busy platform she is sat alone in the middle of bench. Quite frankly I'm not surprised.

Instead of me getting off she gets on and we spend a couple of minutes cuddling and looking inside of each others bags.  We must look confused as a man with a fleece and a badge approaches us. 

We explain that we can't get to the other train and laughingly say 'can't we just sit in first class'  HE DOESN'T SAY NO!  What he does say, pointing down the train is 'Ask her, she's in charge'

At this point a woman with a neat haircut and even neater moustache appears.  'Can we sit in first class' we stutter under scrutiny from her monocled eye, 'We haven't time to move to the other part of the train'.  For a mad moment we both think she's going to agree.....then she pulls herself up to her full 4ft9 and barks,

'You've got 3 minutes, now MOVE.......'

So move we do.  Clearly the alternative is to face a firing squad.  When we finally arrive at Coach C, we find that something horrific has happened!  We're in the quiet coach!

REASONS WHY BEING IN THE QUIET COACH IS A BAD IDEA
  1. We'll have to talk in our inside voices. Based on the fact that neither of us actually have inside voices, this is likely to end in tears (loud, noisy, wracking tears)
  2. We have with us the worlds largest picnic which is wrapped in tin foil, which is going to be noisy to open
  3. When I laugh I do a sort of 'onk onk onk' kind of sound. Jo does more of a grunting noise. If we're laughing at the same time we going to sound like some kind of horific goose/pig hybrid
  4. It seems 'quiet coach' ettiquette to look round and fall into a revered silent when anyone enters as sits down.  As I am not a sodding owl I find it hard to do the polite head spin.
So we start to lay out the picnic on the pull down trays, its not ideal, it fact its disasterous. Should this train crash we're more likely to be suffocated by falling food than the actual crash.

THE FOOD ON THE PULL DOWN TRAYS
  • Sensations 'firey chipotle' middle class crisps
  • Edmame beans/peas with separate compartment of rock salt (useful in a heavy frost)
  • Pepperdew peppers stuffed with goats cheese and steeped in oil (gets everywhere, could swim the channel after eating one)
  • Full sized scotch eggs (eat cold or deep fry for 10 minutes, 10 bloody minutes,  you could deep fry an entire human in that time)
  • Houmous
  • Couchillo mini 'borrower' sized olives, marinaded in garlic and crack
  • Sushi with too much wasabi and not enough soy (oddly enough I had a single chopstick in my bag, so wasabi/soy mixing was possible)
  • Cured meats (chorizo, salami, serrano ham) N.B entertaining when Jo spent 5 mins chewing a piece of serrano ham which turned out to be a piece of plastic laid in the bottom of the tray.
  • Tasteless Mango (tasteless for the simple reason it was actually melon)
  • Grapes
I can almost hear you wondering what you would wash such a decadent feast down with. I'll be honest I'm starting to wonder the same until Jo reachs into her bag and brings out the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.....A BOTTLE OF PORT.  Now granted its only a small bottle of port but its nonetheless a glorious sight.

So there we are, speeding up the northumberland coastline, eating our buffet and sipping on a quality port from paper cups.  This, dear reader, is well and truly, the life.

At some point on the journey something strange happens to Jo, she regresses into a child and starts asking none stop questions. I am on this day out to get away from my children with their endless questions. Why is she doing this to me?

A SELECTION OF JO'S QUESTIONS
  • Why are those olives so small, were they picked really early?
  • Where are we?
  • What does 'chipotle' mean?
  • Whats that mini mountain thing in the sea
  • Why does the port bottle make that sound when you open it.
While I am considering the answers she starts on a new vein.  She starts inexplicably treating me like a secretary.  Should anything be of interest, she demands  'text that to me'.  I do that for so long, then I take the back off my phone, sharpen the edge and slit her throat with it.

The rest of the journey is fairly quiet..............


NEXT:  Edinburgh: the sights, the sounds and a pigeon eating a crisp.........

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