I’m in a £55 train smashing through the countryside back to London. I was nervous about today. Despite all the weird stuff I do, not knowing still puts a little kernel of sick in my heart. Although maybe that’s a hangover.

Last night, as you might have gleaned oh constant reader, I had perhaps one too many glasses of red wine after the show. Then I wrote a ramble piece with my eyes half shut, and passed out with 198,000 alarms set for 7am. 6 seconds later, I pulled on my face, wandered into my suit, fell out of the house and slowly … inevitably … missed my train. I didn’t even swear about it. I just fumbled another ticket at Euston. I always leave too early and this is why. I still arrived early.

Virgin Trains took me to Birmingham. Some areas of Birmingham are no go areas, because they’re ruled over by gangs of Fox News reporters stabbing each other. I was in the bit of Birmingham that is filled with lovely positive friendly people who aren’t immediately terrified if you don’t look like them. I went to a school.

“What were you doing, Al?” I hear you cry. Well, my darling, as it happens *deep breath* I was facilitating a mentorship programme for volunteer employees of a major international pharmaceutical company. Yep. That. They were working one on one with year 9 kids helping them draw up a personal statement for the first time and doing mock interviews. In theory it was fucking terrifying. In practice I just looked smart, talked clear, let them get on with it and came out smiling. The kids had a marvellous experience, and grew. The teachers were thrilled seeing them grow. They really cared, these teachers – every one of them. I loved them for it.

They laid on a lovely spread for us. But I had no appetite whatsoever. None. I looked at all the strawberry tarts and wept internally. I can’t eat before I do hard things. And this was hard in theory. I still feel a bit sick now. But perhaps that’s because I KNEW I SHOULDN’T HAVE HAD THAT LAST BIG GLASS OF RED LAST NIGHT. Or perhaps it’s because I don’t do things by halves. I still threw all my energy at this. I’m exhausted.

One of the teachers walked me back to reception. “Do you want to grab some cakes to go?” “No mate. I can’t think about food yet. I’m still decompressing. I don’t often work with kids. I felt the responsibility.” That prompted a response that floored me. He really wanted to tell me nice things about myself. He’d enjoyed my delivery, and he’d seen the kids change. Apparently I’m great with kids. He assumed all sorts of things. “You’re not conceited.” Ha. Yeah. I’m the most not conceited person I know, actually. Ya. Fuck those conceited people. I’m better than all of those chumps with their stupid conceity faces.

Maybe I helped the kids. I had a good frame to do so. I could do it again now without losing so much time to nerves. And perhaps I could’ve gone home earlier last night, but fun.

At some point soon I need to eat though. That’s the only thing I know for certain. When I was rushing for the train this morning I stopped at Burger King. I bought some sort of abomination called a croissandwich. In theory the stuff in it is animal product. Mouthful. Gag reflex. Swallow. Pause. Repeat. I almost got it all down before I started sweating too much and had to stop.

Now the train is pulling back into London. I might see if I can persuade one of you to come to dinner. I’m a hungry boy now, and I’ve consumed nothing but sweaty cardboard animal all day.

I went home and ordered curry. Then I felt sad for no reason. Now it’s 9pm and I’m going to sleep. It’s still light outside. Mmmmm night.


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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