Sunday, April 23, 2006

Thirty-eight seconds

I missed Eddie's funeral by thirty-eight seconds, and consequently feel like a total shit.

After working late on Friday, I got to bed at a reasonable hour, and primed my phone alarm to wake me up at 6am, giving me ample time to get up, shower, dress and attack my hair with straighteners, before making an unrushed journey to Paddington to catch the 0748 train to Hereford.

Unfortunately, at about 5am I woke from a dream involving a coffee date with Ben Elton to hear what sounded like a murder happening outside in the street. Several minutes of guilty inactivity followed, until I assured myself it was just foxes.

At this point I must have somehow clobbered my alarm clock, because when I next woke up, wondering how long I had before the alarm went off, the display read 0658. Oh good, I thought, a few more minutes and then it will go off, everything under control.

And then it was as though my sluggish brain popped up a little questionmark, and in a second I knew. Shit. SIX-fifty eight? i should have left the house already!

I'm not one of nature's early risers (a fact I exploit by working evenings) but if there's one thing that sets my teeth on edge, it's the possibility of missing a train, or more generally being late for something important. I find watching Clockwise causes me actual physical pain. Over the years, I've learned to deal with this by rigid organisation and a freakish devotion to being early. Job interviews? I turn up at least an hour early, and kick my heels in a nearby coffee shop. I must have spent hundreds of hours in Paddington since I moved to London, since it's the station I use to go back to my parents, and to Oxford.

So, needless to say, I didn't deal with the possibility of being late terrifically well. I ran (yes, actually ran, at least until my throat started to hurt) to the Tube station. Next train: 3 minutes. Shit.

The worst thing about that kind of situation is not the moment when all is lost, but the time you convince yourself you might, might, just make it.. if only you run. The glimmer of hope is what's painful.

As it turned out, I scattered all those French tourists on the escalator to no avail. I came up the steps from the Tube to Paddington station to see the clock reading 07:48:38. And with every fibre of my being I thought: FUCK.

Of course, it being Saturday there was no other train, nor byzantine permutation of trains, which could get me to Hereford before noon. Perhaps I could get to Worcester and persuade my parents to drive me to Hereford? This really was beginning to feel like Clockwise.

But no, decreed the Gods of British Rail. The earliest I could get there was half-past, just in time to stumble into the Cathedral breathless and dishevelled for the last hymn, only for my mobile to ring, probably. Constructively, I burst into tears. Then got the tube home again.

And so I missed the funeral. NB kindly agreed to come over last night and tell me about it, which made things better - it looked like a nice service, with tasteful hymns and thoughtful readings. I know that it was an honest mistake, and that Eddie's family will have had no idea whether I was there or not, but I can't help feeling bad about it.

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This week, I went to the launch of Pen Pusher magazine (website here) which was being held in the same pub as a Grange Hill cast reunion. Normally, I would hysterical with excitement about the prospect of so many minor celebrities in one place, but I was left strangely cold as I didn't really recognise any of them. Apparently, John Alford was there, but I didn't see him.

The other notable thing about the evening is that my ex-boyfriend's new love interest was there, but I didn't know that until last night (ie too late to gawk at her and ascertain if she is thinner/prettier/less mad than me). Balls.

1 Comments:

Blogger Tamburlaine said...

Being late for things sucks. It's always when you're late that the fates conspire against you, making you even later. And it's when you miss things by such a short time that you start beating yourself up about if you'd only done this, you would have been on time.

Grange Hill cast reunion? That sounds all wrong to me. I don't suppose that it would be easy to recognise as adults the kids you once watched. Shame you missed your ex's new girlfriend, though.

4/24/2006 1:11 pm  

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