Late night Al. You absolute bastard.
Knowing that this goes out at 6am, and knowing my inability to get up early, the late night version of me set the early morning version a challenge in order to make damn certain I wouldn’t miss this coach. I didn’t write my blog last night, knowing I’d have to do it now. But I didn’t think it through, as the coach leaves at 6am on the dot – publish time.
Now I’m on the coach. We’re headed off to Stansted, almost. Right now though I’m waiting for the driver to get over himself. I’ll call him Plopsy. He’s very alpha male, is Plopsy. He keeps stopping people from getting on his coach. He’s doing lots of loud articulate explaining to lots of upset people. He won’t accept a screenshot of the email. He’ll only accept the actual email. He has lots of stops. If he accepts these people what happens if the bus fills? It hasn’t affected me other than that I’ve watched him delay departure in order to satisfy his OCD. When I show him my valid email I casually ask “Does this bus usually fill up?” “No sir,” he says and I raise my eyebrows and gesture to my right where there are lots of upset tourists with no data. “I’m happy to buy another ticket, I just need to get on this coach.” one of them says, using his reasoning with a madman voice. Plopsy isn’t listening because Plopsy doesn’t care. If you want a new ticket you have to go to the booth. The bus is due to depart. Anyone buying a new ticket will have to wait for the next bus. Ahh London, London. “Visit London – We even fuck you when you try to leave.” I immediately and completely dislike this human being. He’s making people’s life a misery, for the rules, but he throws my bag in the back like he actively doesn’t give a fuck about anything but himself. “That guy’s a problem, right?” I say to the first people I meet eyes with as I board the coach. They both nod wryly. It’s not just me.
Now he’s walking up the aisle, this little dictator, checking everyone’s bags, telling them where to put them and insisting they put their seatbelts on. I’m the last. When he comes to me I smile with my belt on and my bag stowed. I’m still the naughty kid at the back. “You’ve already made us late, mate. This is making us later.” I say, sunny-smiling. His hesitation is momentary. He doesn’t engage. Good. He’s got driving to do.
And we’re off, Plopsy and I, before the dawn properly breaks, hammering this almost empty coach into sleepy London. Me and my little weird rucksack of things, alongside some relieved tourists who are getting out of this hellhole too.
I have packed very little. The basics. There’ll be things I regret not having, and maybe things I regret taking. I might jettison stuff like spare trousers once I’ve worked out the shape of it. Mum’s holy water is the heaviest and unwieldiest thing I’ve got. I’d love to dedicate it to the Virgin in Lourdes somehow and just get rid of the fucking thing, but I suspect that’s not how I’ll let it work. I’m walking that flask all the way to Spain no matter what I want. It’s not about easy.
My boots are springy and squeaky. Most of my stuff is brand new. Some things still have a label attached. When I hit the road I’ll be shiny and bright eyed. In a month I’ll be dusty and tired, minimal and hopefully a little wiser. Meanwhile, behind me, this dogshit human being will still be driving the National Express to Stansted. The unfortunate people with no data did get on in the end thankfully. Someone else who outranks came along in a red jacket and pantomimed for him. Go Go Plopsy. I’m glad to be leaving this town and your like for a while you unbelievable hidebound prat.