After a dash home from work late this morning, and a madcap run around the house clearing up, tidying up, washing up, and fighting the on-going battle against the fleas (they are losing heavily), I grabbed my bags and set off for the railway station.
I typically take two bags when I travel with work – a backpack filled with my work computer, kindle, various chargers, and a notebook, and a flight carry-on sized bag on wheels full of clothes. Oh – the carry on bag also had a wash-kit bag inside it. My washkit is predictably simple – shaving foam, razors, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, and deodorant. I use whatever shower gel the hotel has.
The journey was uneventful – taking me from our local railway station, to Maidenhead, Paddington, across the London underground to Kings Cross, and then north to Leeds in West Yorkshire. On the longest leg of the journey – from Kings Cross to Leeds – I sat next to a twenty-something girl like a strange sort of bookend – we both read books for the entire journey, and both had a bag of sweets to dip into every now and then.
I’m only here for one night – I travel back tomorrow evening after work. I’m staying at the “Holiday Inn Express”, which offers free breakfasts. Even though I ordered a “standard” room, I’ve somehow ended up with two single beds. I’m not quite sure how that happened – I don’t really care because I’m here on my own, but it does make me feel a bit like a little kid – sleeping in a single bed.
After arriving earlier I had a shower, and wandered over to a nearby pizza restaurant. I was a bit taken aback when the waiter greeted me at the door, and then waved a hand across the empty tables, inviting me to choose any table I wanted. I can never remember that happening anywhere before – usually the waiting staff will lead you to a table (invariably filling the window tables to make the place look busy). As it happened, I never saw him again, because what I can only describe as a Swedish supermodel took my order.
I’m not even joking.
She strode up to my table, flashed me a huge smile, spoke glowingly about my choices, and then set off to the next table, where she flashed a huge smile, spoke glowingly about their choices, and set off once again. For the few moments I thought she was being especially nice to me, I thought the world of her – and then of course the universe reminded me that no – I’m not special – she’s just very, very good at her job.
I half-watched her for the next minute or so as she made her way around the restaurant, and interacted with the other staff. I wondered if she really was a model, or just naturally slender, and very, very good at winged eyeliner, and skinny fit t-shirts.
I ordered a “Sloppy Guiseppe” – a fake Italian pizza filled with enough gooey cheese, beef, and chopped peppers to probably shorten my life considerably. While eating, I noticed a guy in his 50s walk past the window wearing exactly the same clothes as me, and wondered if I had slipped through some kind of temporal rift.
A few minutes after finishing my meal, the waitress re-appeared to enquire if I might order a desert – she asked “do you think you might have room for a little desert?” with a genuinely concerned look on her face. As she did so, she held a hand on her non-existent stomach. I declined graciously, and couldn’t help grinning at the ridiculousness of it all as she walked away.
After paying, and trying not to smile too much at the swedish supermodel, I continuing along the road to the local grocery store in search of coffee and snacks. Along the way I passed a yoga studio, and tried not to stare through the window at the people inside – they seemed to be doing some kind of sun salutation (or at least I think that’s what it’s called when you lie on your front, and then raise your chest up onto straight arms, curving your back).
It’s heading towards 10pm now. I’m not sure where the last two hours went. I watched TV for a little while, and checked work email – I tend to think hotels exist in a strange sort of time morass, where if you don’t look at the clock, it actively accelerates.
Time to go read my book I suppose. It’s quite a good one – called “Code Zero” – a scare mongering dystopian present kind of thing about big brother, subliminal control, and the darkest timeline for social media. I’ll let you know what I think after I finish it.