in which Ms B has some poetry junkets and gets on several trains, only one of them wrong

O my dears,

Well I went to Brighton and read at the inaugural Pighog Press reading at Redroaster Coffee Shop, alongside Jackie Wills, to a very friendly audience. In the shadow of Brighton Pavilion, as it were. I love Brighton. Sandwiched between that and the pier, and all I could think of down there was Pinky, dashing in and out, evil under ice cream.

It was a crazy day – editing, phone calls, and ever-delaying which train I was going to catch, which was all right in a way because the bag was going to be ridiculously and insanely heavy even for me, and I wasn’t really int he mood for a solitary day out anyway. aIn the end I only arrived in Brighton in time to stand by the main pier and watch the sun set over the sea amid a sweep of streaky clouds over the burnt-out West Pier for a very coolly beautiful five minutes or so. It was all very pale and serene and beginning to hint at a mist…

BUT. Needed to find wifi & get the doc back to the recipient, and find a place to have a drink with a friend before the poetry, which all did work and you’ll be pleased to hear that the eldest Baroque progeny’s dissertation is now handed in. No longer the Urban Warrior, more like a determined young person working his butt off to try and support himself and get his degree throughout the worst recession since the 1930s., with no help from anyone. And no, I don’t consider his student loan a lot of help, considering that up till he was about 11 there was an assumption of student grants. And  a fine writer he is, too.

Reading was great. Sold only one book. after all that – but it was fun and I think I did a pretty good one. Race across town. 20 minutes in a pub, delightful mini-chat with two people I’d have been happy to chat with for hours. Rush up the hill, legs on fire with the heavy bag and late hour. It was the train after the one I wanted to catch. The sign said St Pancras platform 8, so I went there and there was a different train. Then the sign said St Pancras platform 6 so I went and got on that train, and lo and behold it left and suddenly it was going to Eastbourne. Got off at Lewes. It was 11.45. Texted the friend I had just left in the pub. Waited for 45 minutes, got a train back to Brighton, spent the £9 I got from selling the ONE book I sold to get ta cab to my friend’s boyfriend’s flat in Hove, where I’m plied with (more) wine and sleep on a very welcome mattress on the floor form about 3am till about 6am. Lay there trying to sleep till 7.15. At 7.39 arrive at Hove Station for the 7.41 train, just time to get my £24 to get to Victoria out of the machine, then dash to the platform jumping into the train just as they blow the whistle… The problem? A meeting in Halesworth at the Poetry Trust, and a train booked for 10am. The train ticket needless to say was in Baroque Mansions, which necessitated a military campaign and heroic efforts on the parts of the Baroque offsprings. One gets all the stuff together, plus a toothbrush and some face-cleansing wipes, and brings it in a bag to Stoke Newington Station. The other one meets her there and brings it to Liverpool Street, which I arrive at off the Circle Line with about 8 minutes to go before my train leaves. He hadn’t even been to bed, and was on his way down to uni to finish, print, and bind his paper.

Fortunately I had managed to get a large tea at Clapham Junction, and my wonderful kid brought me some sausage sandwiches. All I’d eaten since lunchtime the day before was a sausage roll and a banana.

Halesworth was lovely, the Poetry Trust is wonderful, and it was a great afternoon in which I learned a lot and had a fabulous time. I can see why poets who read at Aldeburgh rave about how well they’re treated. But OMG Phew! What a day. And of course by then I had not only the bag with the laptop and the books that hadn’t sold the other night, but also the new bag with paperwork and phone charger and this thing of face cream that Mlle B put in which has a pump action at the top, so there was a slight fear that it would all spurt out… Then I was seen off at the platform in Halesworth – you have to walk across the tracks, just like Jenny Agutter – against another generous sweep of sunset, which is just what travel should be like, and off back to the city, still in the tights I’d fallen asleep in.

Boots, Liverpool St Station, is one of my favourite places in London. Not a lot of people know I feel this way, but it has often been a haven to me in moments of some sort of distress or other. Lipstick therapy, emergency hair dye, Gaviscon, tights, Nurofen, things for Mlle B, Berocca, Clinique bonuses, … It’s the stuff of life. And it’s the first shop past the platform the Stoke Newington trains leave from. So I came home and had a really, really hot bath with bath salts in it and new Soap & Glory cleanser, and went to bed with wet hair, which means it’s a bit extra mad today. Ironic, since I’m still in a coma.

Mlle B looks in my room at 12 when she gets home, just laughs; laughs more when I try to speak; and shuts the door.

Trying to get face the fact that I have to go to the shops and get heavy shopping to carry home…


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