It is my birthday today. To be honest, I had completely forgotten that it was my birthday until the Ugly One reminded me. My mind was elsewhere. I have been on medication which, though as efficacious as medicinal compound, has the side effect of causing me extreme anxiety and panic attacks.
Today, we are setting off for Scotland, so I hied away to Hammersmith to do some last minute emergency supply purchasing, namely diarrhoea tablets (mainly as a psychological buffer) Rennies and paracetamols.
I toyed with the idea of purchasing additional pants from Primark, but as I have already filled our suitcase with new trousers, I felt this wouldn’t go down well.
We are booked on an overnight sleeper train to Inverness and had to present ourselves at Euston Station Reception at 8.30 pm.
I had to share the weight of the bag with the UO on the walk from the Tube to the Railway Station, worried that the additional weight was comprised of Primark cargo pants. I resolved to abandon the medication, reasoning that this was not something of sufficient importance to cause me to worry. I also resolved that, should the pants prove to be too weighty, I would leave them in Inverness for the benefit of the Scottish homeless before I returned.
We were met at Euston Station reception by a chatty young man called (as I thought) Gary, who slapped lime-green labels on us and several elderly couples to distinguish us from the general riff-raff wandering about on the concourse.
‘I’ll collect you all in a while and take you to the train,’ he said.
It was likely to be a half-hour so I walked over to café Something-azza to get the UO and I a coffee.
I’m not sure when the concept of a plain coffee disappeared. The menu had a bewildering list of coffee titles. I’m familiar with cappuccino, but I do object to all these additional fresh coffee hells through whose froth I have to wade to get to an ordinary coffee. There’s frappuccinos and skinny lattes and long tall short variations.
A medium latte was £2.45 so I ordered two of these and gave the serving girl £4.90. Her eyes widened with a strange delight.
‘Oooh!’ she said, ‘How did you know how much it would be?’
I pointed to my lime-green label. ‘Some of us can work things out in our own heads,’ I replied.
She looked suitably impressed.
By the time I got back, the UO had snatched up a ten euro note floating around the station like tumbleweed and more of our fellow passengers had arrived and been lime-green labelled. We began to suspect that we were likely to be the youngest people on the trip. This is not necessarily a bad thing. At least there are no screaming children, at least not yet that is, as we are due to pick up more of our happy band at about 1am an undisclosed location.
Right now, we are ensconced in our two berth cabin on a Caledonian Sleeper with a bottle of Magners each.
The UO had made us chicken and bacon baguettes to eat on the train and which have been duly eaten.
The walls are thin. We could clearly hear the lady in the next cabin asking the steward if she could open the window.
‘The train goes at over a hundred miles an hour, madam,’ he replied in a suitably Scots brogue. ‘You’d just be sucked oot!’