Visit to the North

Thankfully I like driving.

I arrived bright and early to the van hire in Streatham. I had sent my itinerary to the guys I’ve been driving for, days before the job. They’re friends of mine. This job is a favour both ways. I get cash on a down day, they get stuff moved. The Streatham van hire is 20 minutes from the first pick up when there’s no traffic. I’m budgeting 40 as pick up is in peak rush hour. They know this is my expectation as I’ve sent them my anticipated itinerary. Buggers haven’t read it.

At 8 on the the dot, in Streatham, I discover they haven’t used the logical van hire – the one they usually use, that I expected. They’ve booked it in Kentish Town, in North London, the opposite side of town from where I am AND from the load-up. Bugger.

I’m livid. I angrily fight my way across London at peak rush hour. I’ve never queued so long for a train as I do getting on at Balham at 8.15. How the hell do you guys do it every day? Cattle.

On the Northern Line from Balham to Kentish Town passengers were gaily tugging on the alarm like kids in a steam train. At one point the driver hit the brakes so hard I lost my grip and went teeth first into my neighbor’s arm. Their reaction was one of unruffled comprehension, as if people accidentally chomp on her arm every day and it’s fine. I picked her skin out of my teeth and looked the other way. Then we stood for ten minutes back to back while the driver told us we’d be underway soon. Something had happened but it was all vague but nothing to worry about and another train not us etc etc. I felt like Anneka on a bad challenge. By the time I got out of the tunnel I was dripping with rage. The driver had janked banged yarked stalled and apologised his way through a tourists map of the tube stations I’d have to drive back past on my way to the load up.

I couldn’t get too angry as I was still aware that this is a perfectly well compensated job and part of it involves getting props for Carol, which directly improves my December. But I kind of … did. I was not my usual genial self. Had there been a bat, I’d have bitten its head off.

And yet I knew I had to drive for hours and extra crossings of rush hour London are no fun in a humongous great big monster of a Luton. Rage is no use on a long drive, so I lanced the boil. I actively vented spleen. That’s a rarity for me. I wanted to drive safely so I had to pass the parcel. Sorry to anyone who heard from me in that period and had some ugly dumped on them.

Then I drove back to Gatsby chanting, and loaded some props and fabrics and furniture to take up to Sheffield for Neverland. Neverland is the JM Barrie story, or is it your journey through his whimsical fantasy Peter Pan piratical lost-boy/fairy world? It’s all of that, and a lot more beside. I read the script a while ago and heard some of the tunes. It’ll be beautiful. It’s made by dear friends who know and care about beauty, as they do about whimsy and story. It’s going to be a musical joyful feast of Victorian delight told with style. And it’ll look a lot nicer because of that van load of Victoriana I took up, so I’ve played my part. I won’t get to see it. It opens in Sheffield on the same day as Carol. The designer and lighting designer hitched a lift up in the cab with me. They’re glorious people. This’ll be great.

I picked up some Carol stuff from Macclesfield and now I’m turning in somewhere north of Manchester. We’ve fed cats and rabbits, eaten pizza, and I’ve had the first half of my CBT (Compulsory Basic Training for motorbike.) Then I got to pick my whisky from this arrangement:

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Life could be a lot worse. My attempts not to drink could be a lot better. This was a lovely day in the van. And Neverland were thrilled to have the stuff. Go catch it if you’re near Sheffield. It opens on the first.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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