Alan from eBay is 74. “I don’t know what I was thinking getting a Fitbit.” he has written. “I ain’t gonna use it.” I Buy It Now on eBay for half price. Coincidentally he lives in Gillingham which is between Margate and London, so I might as well pick it up from him on the way home. Problem is, he won’t be home until half four. I’m on my own with the jag and it’s morning. Road trip? Road trip. Down the Kent coast…
The jag already has another new scar to add to its impressive collection of dinks and gashes. I have two great big zip up folders full of CDs. It didn’t occur to me until this morning that they look like laptops if you’re a fucking screwdriver wielding drunk idiot. He’d stuck his thing in the top of the driver’s door and had a good go at levering the door open. What the hell was he thinking? It didn’t work, unsurprisingly. But it did fuck up the door, so now the top corner’s bent back and there’s scratches and holes all over the inside. I’m hoping water won’t get in. I don’t particularly care about the bodywork. But it still made me angry. I hope … I hope he shits himself. That’s a possible curse.
I stop at Reculver Bay because I’ve heard of it. The remains of an Anglo Saxon church, now home to coach loads of old people and an eco friendly creperie. Still they take card and they have flat white, unlike the “Somali Farmshop.” The sign on it is a lion. It’s full of elderly white people talking about what was on TV last night. They have a few pumpkins for sale, and a carrot. Nobody is at the counter. Who knew that Somalia was so like Middle England. I do feel unusual and unwelcome there though, so perhaps it’s one of those clever non-literal immersive experiences.
I go down the coast to Herne Bay, hoping it’ll be pretty. It’s only when I get there that I realise I’ve been there before on the endless trip to Margate this Spring. I despite having two hours in the meter I immediately get back in the car and go down the coast to Whitstable. At least it’s unfamiliar. I keep occupied there for a couple of hours, walking around and successfully not buying oysters. Then Alan texts to tell me he is home early, so I get back in the car and off to Gillingham.
Alan lives on a suburban street in Gillingham. He is surrounded by active old geezers. There’s one washing his car when I arrive. “Are you Alan?” I ask. “Nah mate, he’s uglier than I am.”
The guy ain’t wrong, but when Alan asks “What do you want it for?” I tell him I’m on a pilgrimage. I tell him why I’m doing it. The potted version. Mum. Catholicism. Closure. Purgatory. I leave out lifestyle, fitness, novel research, habit breaking. “A catholic pilgrimage. That’s a good thing to do.” He says. “I’m in a similar world. I’m a Knight Templar.” I smile and nod. And back away slowly.
The Knight’s Templar. By legend they are the keepers of The Holy Grail. And here I am having stumbled into this nondescript community of healthy old men. And one of them has sold me his Fitbit. BECAUSE HE DOESN’T NEED IT ANYMORE. HE IS IMMORTAL! Can he be a true Knight Templar? Or is this like the internet where you just say shit and it’s true. “I’m pretty.” “I’m successful.” “I’m a Knight Templar.” “I’m popular.”
I shouldn’t publish this blog in case it’s true. Maybe they needed to move the Fitbit to put the enemies off the scent. Maybe I’ll be shadowed on my pilgrimage by some implacable homicidal ninja nun that only speaks in Latin and has traced me by the gps on my Fitbit… If she kills me with her ninja skills I’ll regret not buying 6 oysters for a tenner in Whitstable. It seemed too indulgent considering I was on my own…