Schrödinger’s CAT

Funny where you end up isn’t it? Ever experienced one of those ‘WTF?’ moments where you end up in a very odd place and a strange time of the day? A frosty Carmarthen at the crack of dawn is one of those places, as is Edinburgh at 6am, especially when one realises that the train I’ve come to catch has been cancelled.

It’s a been at interesting weekend, the quiet coach has been an absolute oasis of calm amongst the drinking masses of Welsh rugby fans. And goodness, what drinking! The train arrived in Edinburgh awash with the carnage wreaked by hundreds of Oliver Reed wannabes yet no damage was caused if you ignore the high tide of Strongbow slopping around coach K. Sacks of empty cans and bottles line the corridors and the staff emerge, blinking, from behind their sandbags in the buffet car. The Transport Police meet the train and are mobbed by middle-aged orange ladies in dragon onesies wanting selfies.

Edinburgh is braced for the red onslaught but the only damage is empty barrels and the tide recedes after the match as the masses leave the City Centre for their more respectably priced Premier Inns. The hordes of French fans wander the streets looking a little puzzled as Dublin proves nothing like they expected it to be and the City won’t take their Euros.

By Monday morning what passes for normality starts to return; the lady on the platform with the sparkly shoes and pooch on the a long extendable lead, the commuter snoring soundly asleep under his bobble hat and the lady cramming as much yoghurt into her mouth as she can.

Anyway, I got up early to catch my train, expecting a rather sleek little CAT, and it didn’t show. Just simply cancelled. A no-show. So, I wondered, was it not there because I was? Would it have been there if I wasn’t? These are important questions which need answering….


This evening I find myself sat on Warminster railway station, being advised to stay behind a non-existent yellow line, in between a stream of announcements advising of delays to basically everything.

As a consequence of Storm Doris blowing some twigs onto the line somewhere in deepest Hampshire I have an hour to kill.

This is the kind of place where the man next to me on the bench is having a heated phone conversation in which he insists the judge was out to get him and has insisted on a different judge next time.

I decide I need fish and chips.

There is one chip shop (The Creme de la Cod, that’s witty. Well it was in 1993). It’s the sort of place that has clients like Ethel who has a bag of small chips every night with the comment ‘ooh young man, one night I’ll have your sausage with it’.

It’s the sort of place that was a one-horse town until someone stole it.

It’s the sort of place where one of the pubs runs a night club evening every evening and tonight the usual two clients are sat looking glum with their bottles of Bud. Still the lousy dance music bangs out and suspect somewhere in the depths is a DJ plying his lonesome trade.

It’s the sort of place that, despite feeling like a sleepy Marie Celeste, still has a Wetherspoons full to gunwales of happy people scoffing mixed grills.

I get back to the station at 2015. The nice lady on the tannoy advises me that opportunistic theives operate at this station and that snow-boarding is prohibited. I’m advised helpfully that the next fastest train is at 2001.

Eventually my train is arrives and I’m mightily glad that it’s running specially non-stop to Bristol. I like to think this is specially for me.

When in Frome, do as the Fromans do…

Blimey, just have to share this treat.

Now, I have absolutely no intention of getting into the murky world of restaurant reviews but this evening cannot go without comment. Anyone that knows me or has followed these esteemed pages will know of my fear of the countryside and in particular of country folk. All that tweed, red faces and wellies. Terrifying stuff. So, having survived my eldest daughter’s parents evening this week in deepest Dorset (interestingly, the children and parents were 100% white which I found a little uncomfortable, though I guess there isn’t a ‘red’ box under ethnicity on the census, though really there should be), I found myself with a couple of hours to kill in Frome.

Frome is an interesting place; it clearly has money and the restaurants there reflect it’s ‘Little London’ reputation, a heady mix of Range Rovers, faux-Glastonbury types, investment bankers turned potter and locals. Locals that still resent Wiltshire for it’s role in the Civil War. There are, however,  worse places to kill a couple of hours on a Saturday night (generally the neighbouring Wiltshire towns, for example) so the rather lovely young lady on my arm suggested an Italian restaurant by the name of Castellos, so I happily took her advice.

And what a fine choice it was. Excellent food, excellent service and a generally splendidly cosmopolitan atmosphere that just could not have existed in rural Somerset twenty years ago.


You can’t always deal with the locals.

Let’s talk about Trumpet-gob.

Castellos is a high ceilinged and fairly cavernous place which really works when full, creating an excited hum of happy eaters. Except when you have Trumpet-gob in the house. Trumpet-gob (let’s call her ‘TG’) is the sort of person who’s voice could fill the grand canyon with her whispered conversation and tonight she’s dining with her partner and child. She’s also be-friended the family with a child at the next table and another young family sat at a table in a different restaurant in the adjoining county. Everyone is going to hear about TG’s life. I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone talk so loudly and laugh the most witches-cackle of a laugh. I would imagine intimate foreplay with Brian Blessed as the Bishop of Bath and Wells to be a more intimate experience. People are turning and staring at TG. Mouths are open in awe. Pasta is being shoved in ears to drown the noise. TG likes talking to small children in that awful coochy-coochy kind of way whilst giving the poor monster tinnitus for the rest of it’s life. The lawyers of Frome will be busy filing suits on Monday for industrial scale damages to their hearing. I  have never heard anyone talk so loudly.

She wouldn’t have lasted a minute in Coach A but tonight the caped-Quiet-coach-crusader is helpless (her partner is the size of a scrum).

Eventually she leaves. Was it just me I wondered? But no, the remaining diners all turn to each other and give knowing, relieved smiles to each other. And remove the pasta from their ears.

I head back to the City, and peace.

More crisps, swinging and the NHS 

I’ve had a lovely day.

One of the days in London where everyone you sit down with are charming, interested in my battered suitcase of wares and keen to do business. The sort of day where new business arrives as promised and the sort of day where the constant threat of a soaking never happens (a big hello to everyone who has ever pointed out to me that I really should get a coat, umbrella etc).

Anyway, on the subject of cold weather gear, it has actually been rather chilly recently hasn’t it? I rarely wear a coat (spellcheck went for ‘goat’ here, just mentioning it as I don’t do that either but it made me chuckle). So, me, no coat though in my defence I do wear a scarf which is quite big so a sort of coat. I, apparently as a direct consequence, have had a cold for six weeks. That became man-flu and, the weekend before last, full-blown bedridden ‘flu. The legacy of this, as anyone who has spoken to me this year will testify, is a truly deliciously hacking cough. The sort of cough that makes people look for the seal in the room and, quite frankly, the harem were getting cross. Now, the NHS advises sagely that any cough that reaches it’s third week should be referred to a GP. Or perhaps I’m the referral? Anyway, I’ve been watching Breaking Bad (only on series two so no spoilers please) but I’ve seen where Walt’s cough took him. Yep, a small cough and within weeks he’s a drug dealer. I didn’t want that.

So, my friend Miss Ross is very clear in these situations. Get to the Doctor. Miss Ross is very strict.So, I try. The GP’s website informs me helpfully that the surgery’s six partners now have 6.2 million patients so, if you don’t mind awfully, would you all please refrain from being ill. Ignoring this I thought I’d try and ring them and get an appointment for a wonder drug to clear my chest. I ring and ring and ring…. so, ok, let’s try their online booking system. The sort of system you used to see after you’d last dialled up. Now I’ve long forgotten my password so having exhausted the usual combinations of loved ones names and special numbers, the system advised me I am some kind of eejit and directs me to the ‘forgot your password dimwit?’ button. At which point the system crashes, and does so every time.

Ok. I hadn’t been outdoors that day thought I’d walk to the surgery and book an appointment. I greeted by the lovely lady of reception with a scowl, though to be fair to her, that could have been wind. I asked to book an appointment and, looking up, she asked gleefully if it was life-threatening. Kinda missing the opportunity, I replied in the negative at which point she offered a slot in 21 days time. I suggested that I might be better by then, to which she replied that that would be good and could I remember to cancel my appointment.

I walked out, but undaunted, went to the pharmacy. The very lovely French pharmacist was very helpful (I’m going to be ill more often, im certain), observing the stage blood down my shirt, and suggested that I really ought to see my GP. I explained the predicament and she pointed me towards the walk-in centre (what if you’re not well enough to walk in?) but then noticed that it would be shut now so suggested A&E…

Now, I’m not going to get political on here (made that mistake on Facebook recently and quickly realised which of my acquaintances have views, which we will say, are a little to the right of mine). But Jeremy Hunt (how difficult that is to say, thank you Jim Naughtie), what a mess! How can someone with a bad cough end up being directed to A&E?  No wonder they’re collapsing with their workload.

Fortunately, the 1600 from Paddington is fairly lighted loaded this evening but the caped-Quiet-coach-crusader has issues to deal with. There’s excessive crisp eating for starters, though I think the man in A52 has popcorn which seems to come in an especially noisy packet. Popcorn eaters seem to have a special routine for extricating every last crumb from the deepest recesses whilst making some deep orgasmic noise. This is why cinemas have the volume up so high. Then we then have an old boy with those headphones on that make you look like a Cyberman, listening to some dreadful swing at a volume we’re all enjoying. The lady in A72 is on the phone. 

The man in A5 sounds like a barking Alsation.

I’m going to be busy. Though, yet again, the WiFi doesn’t particularly work and the power sockets are broken.

Happy Wednesday all!

Footnote; the man in front of me has returned from the buffet with a packet of Tyrell’s extra crunchy and smelly cheese crisps and a tin of Thatchers. At least he’ll be off at Swindon.