John Walker's Electronic House

by on Jul.29, 2004, under The Rest


My people are coffee people. In the first portion of the day (trip to the chemist for Victoria, then to Nick’s mum’s house for a strange errand) it was important that we find some sort of coffee dispensing corporation, in order to prevent my day being spent in a no-caffiene-first-thing headache gloom. Yes, I know this is terrible. I am very aware that I am addicted, and that I will inevitably die horribly face down in a vat of brown liquid. But I can defend it.

I went to the doctor for a medical a couple of years back. He asked me if I smoked. I said no. Had I ever smoked? No. What about drugs? Nope – never taken any. How many units of alcohol do I drink a week. At that time, it was 0. And had been for a year or so. Finally he asked if I was in a sexual relationship. No. The doctor put his pen down, looked at me, and said, “You need to get a vice”.

So a coffee addiction is only following doctor’s orders.

Nick kindly took me into the first place he saw, his extensive knowledge of the shops one millisecond from his house untroubled by the decision. They served me something that they had rudely chosen to describe as “coffee”. I differed. And then around the next corner, a specialist Italian coffee house, run by Italians, serving Italian coffee. What makes me proud of me is that I threw the hideous goo away, and walked in. I said to the man behind the counter, “I’ve just bought a coffee from the place the around the corner.” He frowned. “It was horrible,” I explained. He nodded. “Make me something better,” I asked, knowing he would understand. He understood. Because my people are coffee people.

Nick had said a couple of times that there would be lunch on the train, so we didn’t need to eat before we left. This struck me as odd – food on a train – but I didn’t give it much thought. It turned out, for the three hour journey from London to Hull, we were in First Class. This was something to do with Nick’s company and various string pulling, rather than an outlandish expense on our part. I’ve never been in First Class before. I always mutter and grumble as I walk past all nineteen empty coaches to reach the pleb-seats, so far down the platform that you’ve already made impressive inroads into your forthcoming journey. It was nice, though. More leg room, comfier seats, and a lady offering us tea and coffee (not horrible coffee, impressively) every half hour. Although somehow they had run out of lunches. Which was an impressive feat, bearing in mind there must have been about ten other people in the posh bits. So we were offered the paultry recompense of a sandwich from the buffet car, and a bit of cake.

Don’t worry, we were told by the Daily Mail reading bearded man sharing our carriage, the lunches are always horrible. He explained how it was all so yucky, and that the chicken was so spicy-hot that it was inedible. Stay tuned for Tuesday’s write up to see if Daily Mail Reading Bearded Man was a trustworthy person, or a stupid-faced Daily Mail reading twit. He was also rubbish at magic tricks.

Victoria was excited to show us around Hull. She was probably the very first person ever to be excited to show someone around Hull since Mr Hull, having just invented it, showed it to his mum and dad. She had gone to university there. There was a hilarious adventure involving buying shoes, and ending up with two pairs!!! It was so funny! If only you’d been there. Sigh.

And to the ferry.

When I was a kid, my family went on a few holidays to Scandinavia via ferry. This was, of course, before these newfangled low-price airlines, so the ferry was a great cheaper way of getting to Abroad, and the Scandiavian Seaways ferries were completely brilliant. When I was 12. I have no idea if they were great, or if it was just that I was 12 and on a ten deck boat with a swimming pool, cinema and decks to scrurry around. One of my strongest memories of those ferry trips (apart from the time we had a really rough crossing, and you couldn’t walk in a straight line, and everyone was being sick except me and my mum, and we were having a great time because it was so fun) is my dad, sat in a deckchair on deck, smoking his pipe. He stopped smoking a pipe over a decade ago, so it seems really strange now. And he was far too young to be smoking a pipe at the time.

All this ocean-crossing nostaglia is a pre-cursor to annoucing that the Hull to Holland ferry is like the very worst Butlins holiday camp, but with the handy escape routes blocked off by the sea. It was all too horrible, but by a fluke Nick and Victoria’s cabin had been naughtily double-booked by P&O, and to fix this they had been upgraded to one of the Well Posh cabins. On the corner of the boat, it had two windows, lounge area, television, seperate bathroom and toilet, and a complimentary fridge full of drinks. My cabin was a cupboard with a bed folded up against the wall. So much hiding in Nicktoria’s cabin was enjoyed, apart from a brief foray to the “entertainment” to witness the gruesome murder of a number of already rubbish songs by the “P&O North Sea Players”. So, so wrong.

Time travel is incredibly complicated, and this unnatural activity took its toll for us. Deciding to see a film at 11.30 (The Cooler – very good, if trying slightly too hard to be ‘a bit Scorcese’), we realised we’d be out about 1am, and that we’d be up cruelly early the next morning. But we would be fine. Were the time not to also move forward an hour. Which, by the cruel position of the Sun, it did. Three and a half hours of sleep. Yummy.

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