Glimmers of Life

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It’s been one of those mornings where nothing quite seems to be going to plan. Where you wake up before the alarm clock, switch it off and then end up snoozing ten minutes past when you needed to be out of the shower. Where you arrive at the tram station just as the tram is pulling in but just as you turn around with your ticket and change the doors start to close and there’s no way you can make those two short steps to the get through the doors in the 3 milliseconds before they close.

But at least I’m having a better morning that one woman that I’m sharing a Virgin Train carriage with…

Manchester to London trains on a weekday morning are busy, busy at Manchester but even busier at Stockport when all the people who got on at Manchester have to shuffle round to accommodate all the people who get on at Stockport with actual seat reservations that have not been displayed in the carriage.

This is what happened this morning, as usual but it didn’t pass without incident. As a group of 7 colleagues all got on with one marshalling the rest to their reserved seats, that’s when it happened. A drink was spilled… A man, suited for a full day of ‘business’, stands up claiming that a drink was spilled down his back. He demands no only an apology but that the culprit (one of the colleagues being marshalled to a seat) clean the spoiled shirt. Now this was an accident, in the gap between the seats, known to most as the aisle but not really wide enough for any bride to saunter down, the squeezing and manoeuvring had caused a shoulder to tap an elbow, which nudged a hand that tipped a cup causing the liquid to leap free from its confinement and onto said businessman’s shirt.

The woman stood, neither producing the requested apology or cleaning facility, this made the man angry. And with his anger coursing through his veins he raised his bottle of coke above her head and emptied the contents on her hair. As the drink trickled down her behind her ears and onto her white shirt, again she stood – but now she too was processing feelings of anger, only able to muster, “are you joking?!?!?! Have YOU just done that?!?!?’ before the physical response kicked in.

At that point Marshaller stepped in, squeezing past her Coke-soaked colleague she stood up to the effervescent man who was still demanding an apology, calling the act ‘uncalled for’ and commanding that train security be called. They did the very British thing and took it outside (well to the slightly larger space by the doors) and had their words there with the conductor as referee. In the meantime the carriage was alive with chatter recounting what happened, and the other colleagues complimenting the Coke-soaked victim for being so calm, as they would have ‘decked him one’ in her position.

As the train, smoothly races through the cityscape it takes a good ½ an hour before the ripples from the incident die down…
Before the colleagues stop using terms like ‘wanker’ and farce.
Before the jokes stop flying ‘what did he expect her to do, produce a washing machine right there and then!’
Before the deeper accusations stop being flung ,” it’s a good job you didn’t hit him, he looks like th type of man who would have hot you back” Before the next steps have been discussed, “do you want to call the police when we get into Euston’, “it’s all on CCTV you know’.
And eventually of course the victim is considered: “Can you buy a shirt in Euston station, there’s a Marks and Spencer there”, “No I don’t think so, they just sell food.”

Well with a start to the day like that it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the day goes…

I’m not sure when I first became aware of Wicked… maybe it was Defying Gravity being covered on Glee, maybe it was an interview heard from the lead about how long it took to “get green”, or it could even have been a review from a friend. I don’t know but what I do know is that I’d been waiting to see it since January, and the anticipation has been building since then.

I tried to arrange a trip to London to see it with my friend, but as the costs stacked, train, hotel, ticket price etc my friend’s enthusiasm waned until it became no more than a “did I say I would go to that?”. I then turned to my partner to rescue my dream and whisk me off to see it, but from his rather lacklustre “yeah we could do that” suggesting it would be  next century rather than next month I didn’t hold out much hope. So when I had to travel to London for work on my own with an overnight stay the spark was rekindled and a plan hatched.

I raced off the train at Euston at 7.25pm running on excitement navigated to Victoria, stepped out of the station to be greeted by the HUGE Wicked sign, took a quick gasp and ran in front of a taxi to get to the entrance (who put that road there?!), only to be told that they wouldn’t be able to sell me a ticket because the show started 20 minutes ago. Excitement drained, joy lost I went back to the station and made my way to my hotel and watched Grand Designs instead.

However I went back the next day, got a ticket and was sat in my seat ready for the show from 7.10 (show starts at 7.30pm). Lost in a Hugh Laurie article I hardly noticed when the lights went down… But before long the music started and at last I was watching WICKED!!

I can’t remember how long it’s been since I’d watched a musical on stage but I was thinking that it’s usually more well engaging. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying it, there was comedy and emotion and I was happily along for the ride but I just wasn’t feeling it. Then just as I was feeling the pinch of disappointment defying gravity entered the story and that was it. I went from ‘weeeeeeelllllllll’ to ‘Wow’ and by the time the interval arrived I was thinking ‘bloody hell’ that was fantastic. Defying gravity was the song that I was aware of, but it was just a song like any other, but then in the show it soared and took me along for the ride, by the end I was sat hands clasped in prayer position and neck stretched straining to keep my head from floating off into the rafters with the music.

To be honest, nothing else lived up to that moment – if it did I don’t think I could have contained myself! But I definitely relaxed into the performance bit more and got more out of it because of that moment. Really glad that I finally got round to seeing it. Although on the downside there really should have been an encore… guess I’m gonna have to make do with the memories and an Original Cast Recording (which I purchased using my phone before I was out of the theatre!).

My views on going to the gym have always been clear. I think it’s a waste of time and money. Surely there are enough things to do in your average UK town or city that can help you get fit or keep fit or whatever. In fact I’m sure even just round my house I could find enough items to lift, twist with and step up on to create a fantastic calorie burning workout.

But there’s one thing a gym has that I just can’t replicate at home and that’s a swimming pool. I recently started a new job and with that job came a discount for the local gym and already I’m hooked. It started with just a quick lunchtime fix, then I negotiated a night off the evening childcare routine with my partner so I could go after work. Then yesterday I had a late appointment, so I made dinner, fed my daughter and then went out for my appointment. Once that was done (seeing as I already had my pass for the night) I went to the gym again. If I count it all up I think I’ve been at least 7 times in the past two weeks.

What has most perplexed me however is that I’m not just going to swim. On my night off I started doing a couple of classes, and I’ve been tempted by the machines too (although I’ve not used them for a proper workout yet). I’m now beginning to wonder how I managed without going to the gym. I hate myself for it but the legal high (if not a little expensive) I get means that for now I’ll just have to live with it!

Mistresses, the BBC drama show came back for its series last month. There was excited anticipation in this household from both me and my hubby, as soon as we caught a glimpse of the trailer. We’ve watched every episode of every series, and to my surprise, I think it’s something we enjoy equally.

The first episode of this final series aired and it was as enjoyable as ever. The second episode we missed but made a special effort to watch at the earliest opportunity on the iPlayer. Then we heard rumours that the next one was the penultimate and suddenly it was over. RUBBISH!

It felt like they thought, oh a new series of Mistresses – great idea. They got everyone on board, got the writers busy at their computers and then two episodes in said – “oh, you know what, actually we don’t have the money to do a full series, wind up what you’ve got and we’ll go with that”. What was the point?

The final episode seemed like such a hurried resolution to the whole thing, without really being a resolution. Very odd.
Mistresses as a whole was a very engaging and enjoyable piece of entertainment and this final series did it such a disservice that it’s left me wondering whether they should have bothered at all.

There’s no contest really.

This weekend we took a trip down south, first to Brighton to visit friends. Then to Portsmouth to explore the maritime history, and then to Bristol for a bit of an arts fix.

The Portsmouth part was well planned, with me booking the Hilton using our hard earned Tesco vouchers. The Bristol bit – less so, with me just booking the day before we left. The moral of the story is that the hurried hare won the race.

I was so looking forward to staying in the Hilton. We’re not all that posh – so staying at a Hilton is a bit of a treat. You expect a bit of class and it basically felt like a Travelodge with nice sheets and posh shower gel.  The gym doesn’t have a pool, and looked more like a store room as I walked passed. And it was £5 to use the internet for half an hour! Not what you expect for the price.

Whereas the Future Inn in Bristol (Cabot Circus) was great. It was £49 for a King size room that had plenty of space for our travel cot. The bed was big, the shower was nice (with the taps in the centre of the bath so you don’t get your hair wet turn it on), and it had free internet access and free ice.  The parkign was free and it is really close to a shopping centre which has a Starbucks and a Costa coffee for your morning coffee treat. This hotel made me happy!

Well to be honest the job hunt began in earnest a month ago… but now it’s serious. Last week I was told I was being made redundant and this week it all becomes official. How do I feel? Fine…(ish).

It’s something I’d suspected, especially after the long off-site meeting the Directors had, and then nothing…. obviously the calm before the storm. I thought I’d feel a little free… a little relief, a little excited. I thought it might spur me on to come up with my own business idea – which I’ve been hoping for for a while now. Ever since I read an article about loads of mums starting businesses after spotting a gap in the market following the birth of their babies. But no…nothing has come of that seed.

So what now? Well I’ve been applying for jobs – I guess now I’ll be a little less selective. I’ve got in touch with the agencies – and they seem positive which keeps my spirits up.

The worst part is going into work and feeling a potent combination of embarrassment and pointlessness – because I still have to “work” my notice without really having any purpose. Why is that?

When I was younger we used to cross the Channel all the time. Back then there was no tunnel, no trains just good old fashioned boats. What I do remember is the boat being cool (i think we still said that back then!) and that standing on the deck with the extremely chilly wind trying to penetrate my afro felt fantastic. But travelling by boat is not something I’ve done in a while. But earlier this month I had the chance to venture to Dublin on the ferry – mainly because my husband didn’t want to brave public transport even if it was in another country and likely to be a much better experience than he’s had here, in England.

Getting to Holyhead was straightforward, although the signs once you got to the port weren’t that clear. Getting onto the Irish Ferry seemed way too easy. The security check pretty much consisted of one question. The serious looking man peered into the car, saw me, my husband, my daughter and two of my in-laws, sitting clutching passports, booking forms, proof of address documents and much more, and he simply asked, “Is this a car?” and waved us through.

Once on the ferry we left the car, went upstairs and sat in our ready positions and waited for Ireland to come to us.

I took the chance to explore – to reconnect with my youth and rush round the boat in an excited flurry – except this time I did use the opportunity to find where the loos and the baby change areas were – something that never seemed important when I was 12.  To my  delight they still have a shop on board, and there was clothing on sale – what joy! They also had a two screen cinema, games area (like the ones you find in bowling alleys) and a play area with big bits of coloured plastic to entertain the younger kids.

We had taken the 2pm ferry on the way there and that seemed to be quite busy, with school groups, families and a few random collections of people who I couldn’t pigeon hole with a glance. There did seem to be plenty of space though – the toilets were never full, and despite the numbers of people stretched out for an afternoon snooze there were lots of empty seats. On the way back on the 8.55pm ferry it seemed, as they say in the trade, dead. Maybe it was because most people were snoozing, maybe it was because I was no longer excited about ferry travel and just wanted to get home but it seemed very quiet. We sat in the bar and over in the corner one of the  staff efficiently unpacked the blackjack table and patiently stood there ‘tempting’ passengers to part with their money. Despite impressively making the effort to not look bored the whole time – there were no takers… I almost wish I had even the slighted desire to play.

Irish Ferries got us to Dublin and back without event – it was a smooth ride, no travel sickness and while the 6 hour ride (3 hours each way) didn’t fly by it had everything we needed. It was just a little lacklustre. It had none of the wow of a plane ride, and none of the coziness of a car journey – it did the job. That’s that.