Volume 3 – Chapter 304: The 229, It’s Not On Time

I had to run for the bus this morning.

Not because I was late for it, because that would make too much sense and this is, after all, me so nothing is ever straight forward.

No, I had to run for the bus because I was early for it.

I know. It doesn’t make much sense to me either, and I was there at the time when this happened.

I left the house later than I’d really wanted to this morning, due to a combination of being terribly disorganised and suffering some difficulties in locating a dark pair of trousers hung amongst other dark items on the back of a door in a darkened room. So I was expecting to miss the bus and to have to walk to the train station. And then as I got to the end of the road, more traffic than I have ever seen in my entire life was going up and down the road preventing me from crossing. So I was even more convinced that I would miss the bus.

But I soldiered on. I walked along Oak Road, past the house with the car sticker of Taylor Swift, and further past the house with the car sticker that asks me, in capitals, to not forget about Madeline. I got to the main road, opposite the bus stop, waited for a break in traffic and crossed over. It was, considering how badly the morning had started, one of the first mornings which didn’t see me stranded in the centre of the road variously bricking myself as people want to go in and out of Tesco’s car park – a move with puts me, in my precarious position, in mortal danger.

So I made it to the bus stop.

And I looked at the high-tech digital display board which shows me how long it will be before the next bus.

It should have said that a 229 was due in a minute, or maybe two. Or not shown a 229 at all, indicating that I had missed it – as expected – and could walk to the station while muttering a variety of swear words under my breath.

Instead it proclaimed that my bus – the bus that the high-tech digital display board tracks – was 14 minutes away from the bus stop.

14 minutes.

Too late for me to catch my train, that’s for sure.

What to do? I can’t risk hanging on for 14 minutes on the off-chance it comes. I can’t even really wait more than a minute or two before I would be pushing it for walking, even if I do walk along the desolate, dark, cycle paths as if I am being chased by wolves (albeit quite sedentary ones). Fourteen minutes were a long time to wait for a bus which should really be here in a couple of minutes at most.

So I had to set off walking.

Which I did.

And then the bus came.

So I had to run back for it.

Which I’m not sure anyone else has done, ever.

But I am sure made me look like a complete tit.



Volume 3 – Chapter 303: The Seven Year Which?

It’s our anniversary tomorrow.

Seven years we’ve been together. Seven years with all the ups and downs that are associated with the passing of those years. Seven years, of course, being just slightly longer than we’ve been waiting for the bathroom to be finished.

And as an indicator that the romance hasn’t gone out of our relationship this morning’s conversation went something like this:

“It’s our anniversary tomorrow. I need to get you a card.”
“I haven’t got you a card?”
“We should do something, though. It’s our anniversary. We should exchange cards at least. Flowers would be nice.”
“We’re going to the cinema? We can’t take flowers to the cinema.”
“I know, but I’m just saying. It would be nice to have flowers once. But we should get cards.”

I didn’t want to bring up the fact that I had, in fact, bought several bunches of daffodils during the months of spring as now didn’t seem to be the time. And I certainly hadn’t bought a card. I didn’t think we were doing cards. I thought we’d had a discussion about cards several years ago when it was decided we wouldn’t really bother as we tended to spend many of our anniversaries hiding below the level of the window so trick-or-treaters couldn’t find us because while Hallowe’en is a great day to have an anniversary as it’s easy to remember, you can’t go out anywhere without having to be surrounded by people embracing the Americanisation of the day.

So I didn’t have a card. I could get a card, though, I thought. I could get one by tomorrow night. I could get a romantic card and declare my love for Carole for a £3 investment (maximum).

So I plotted and planned and decided to nip into the card shop on the way to work tomorrow and get a lovely suitable card .

And then this evening we had another discussion which went something along the lines of:

“I haven’t got you a card. Let’s not bother with cards. I haven’t got you one.”
“Well I haven’t got you one either… I was going to but if you haven’t got one…”
“I haven’t got one. Let’s not bother.”

Now I don’t know what to do. I should probably get a card. I think. But then if she hasn’t got a card am I just laying a sprinkling of guilt onto a romantic (and completely spontaneous, obviously) gesture? But then if she does get a card for me and I haven’t got one because I thought we were doing cards as per our last conversation on the subject then I’ll feel really bad and have to run to the Tesco express and buy a suitable card from their selection of ten Les Dawson joke based offerings.

I’ll tell you what, Schrödinger’s cat’s got nothing on an anniversary dilemma.

Volume 3 – Chapter 302: The Dewsbury Cinderella

The man next to me on the train was acting very strangely this morning.

He’d got on the train quite normally, but a short while into the journey he started to fidget and bang his foot about and I thought to myself, “Why do they always sit next to me?” with the kind of resigned air of someone who attracts crazies and oddballs like bright lights attract moths or the vaguest mention of publicity attracts Katie Price.

He started huffing and puffing and leaning over, encroaching into my space, crossing the clearly defined border of his own seat. I just wanted to read my Kindle in peace, I didn’t want to be sharing my seat with a quarter of someone else for some random reason.

Then his elbows started to poke and prod at me. He carried on fidgeting. I did that very British polite thing in which I said nothing, readjusted myself and continued to read, just glancing once at him and smiling in a kind of “You’re actually awfully strange, old bean, but I’m prepared to put up with it” kind of way. You know, that look that almost everyone does at some point when they are faced with an unusual situation.

And then he turned to me and said, as if to offer some sort of explanation for his behaviour, “I can’t get my shoe back on…”

Sorry? You can’t get your shoe back on? That’s supposed to be an explanation? I mean, granted, it does go some way to explaining why you’re banging your foot about and leaning over. To why you’re huffing and puffing and acting a little strangely. It explains all that. But what telling me you’re unable to get your shoe back on doesn’t explain is why you are trying to get your shoe back on in the first place.

I saw you get on the train. When you got on you were wearing two shoes. You weren’t wearing one shoe and carrying the second because to stop and put it on would have made you miss the train. You were wearing two shoes. How, between getting on the train and sitting next to me, did one of those shoes – and just one – come to no longer be on your foot? That’s the kind of explanation I need. I don’t need to know that you can’t get it back on, however pertinent to the whole proceedings that is, I need the back story that led to the shoe being taken off in the first place.

Was it gravel? I bet it was gravel. It’s usually gravel. Or that thing where your sock bunches up in the end of your shoe and feels weird, like your foot has rolled its sleeves up. Was it any of that? Is that why you only had the one shoe on?

You can’t leave me hanging. You can’t just tell me your shoe won’t go back on. You can’t do that to me.

And do you know what I did, given all that running through my mind, when the man told me about his shoe problem?

I just laughed and went back to my book.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight because I’ll be wondering about why his shoe was off. It’s all I’ve been able to think about all day, if I’m honest.

If I see him on Thursday morning I think I’ll ask…


Volume 3 – Chapter 301: There’s A Bath In The Garden. A Poem.

There’s still a bath in the garden
It’s been there for eight weeks
It’s full of mucky brown water,
And probably properly reeks.

It’s one hundred percent going to go, they say
Your garden will be empty once more
I’ll tell you what, if that bath disappears
You’ll have to pick me up from the floor.

Eight weeks in to a five day job
And nothing has yet been grouted
All that’s happened in the last few weeks
Is that Carole’s anger has sprouted.

Just tell us, we say, if you’re coming or not
To the plumber who’s doing the job.
I’m definitely coming. I’ll be there. I promise.
Then he doesn’t turn up, what a nob.

We’re waiting on a man to fix the roof
In weather that’s properly shitty
Combined with the break in the sewer pipe
It’s properly eaten into the kitty.

One the roof is done, we’re on the home straight.
Finish tiling and install a shower.
A sink would be nice, and the door put back on,
Because it’s off-putting to pee when cats glower.

It’s got to the point where we’ve just had enough.
It’s gone on far too long, get it sorted.
But tomorrow he’s coming, one hundred percent.
When Carole told me, I just snorted.

I not holding my breath, I’m sorry to say.
My love for the plumber is falling.
It’s not all his fault, I know that’s a fact.
But his reliability rate is appalling.

Carole sends texts that are angry in tone
And he takes his time to reply,
But it’s all well and good winding him up,
But who has to face him? ‘Tis I.

I have to stand up and look at his face
And not want to scream and to shout
“There’s a bath in the garden, it’s been there for weeks…
Will you just throw the fucking thing out…”

Volume 3 – Chapter 300: Stormy Weather

I bet Michael Fish is hating this weekend.

Because this weekend is the weekend of the storm. The storm that has been promised for several days, grabbing headlines wherever it can as we are warned that there may be some, all or none of the following: strong winds, flooding, power cuts, fallen trees and disruption to travel on Monday morning.

But that won’t be why Michael Fish is hating this weekend.

Michael Fish will be hating this weekend because, as zero hour approaches, more and more people and/or media outlets are referring to this predicted weather as the worst storm to batter Britain since the hurricane of 1987. Which is, of course, the one that Michael Fish went, “Hurricane? Pah, don’t even worry about it!” about on the weather that time, went to bed and woke up in someone’s garden three streets away because of the hurricane that whistled through the south-east, blowing over several of the seven oaks in Sevenoaks and things of that nature.

So who better to discuss this impending wind-based destruction on many national news programmes than the man who failed to predict the last one?


I bet since the storm was announced, Michael’s phone has been ringing off the hook with people who want to know how they have known, days in advance, this storm was coming but back in 1987 it could have been overlooked. Come in, news shows will be saying, and discuss the impending weather and we promise to make almost no mention of the largest televised weather cock-up since that time someone put the letters on the map backwards during Bill Giles’ forecast and the nation was on the lookout for GOF.

Sky News, for the last few days, has been running the storm as one of its lead headlines. And the problem with weather as news is that, as far as illustrative pictures go, weather that hasn’t yet happened is a bit of a problem.  So far, to illustrate the impending calamity, we’ve had a picture of a lighthouse with storm clouds in the background which, rather than fill me with some kind of weather-based trepidation, has actually made me think “Wow, that’s actually a really good picture” and, lately, a picture of a radar sweep of the storm front.

I’m sure tomorrow, however, the news story will be accompanied by a picture of the sea, somewhere, slamming into a sea wall and spraying upwards. That seems to be a stock photo for illustrating the severity of a storm. Look, it says, the weather was so bad that the sea did this. And on the news there will be some film of a flooded street somewhere and just one token person cycling through it, before there is later footage of residents travelling about in a boat.

And that’s what worries me the most. If my street floods, which is highly unlikey due to a number of factors but one of the primary ones being a hill, I’m not sure that anyone who lives on this street has access to a boat of any kind with which they could be filmed drifting along in front of the houses or helping an old person get out of their house to pick up their pension or whatever it is old people do when they feel the need to leave their flooded homes.