Thursday, August 30, 2007

Flip-flops don't look so practical upside-down

As the night train from Scotland pulled into Euston at 7.01 I got a text message. It was from the nurse. "Sooo hungover. Fancy 3sum. Can you arrange?"

Kate had wisely told me that your first day after the Festival would be depressing, and that I should try and take my mind off it. I had just been planning a long bath and catching up with Vanity Fair, but this seemed better.

I texted a couple of likely suspects. The Affair regretted that he was at a Burberry launch party, and my ex was working. So that's how the nurse and I ended up in a sauna, providing sightseeing tips to a wide variety of delighted holiday makers.

"This," said the nurse, "Is great. When we hunt together, we can just walk up to them and ask. And how can they say no? How brilliant! We're like those dinosaurs in that film. Only with towels!"

Partly because we're old friends, and partly because we've sneaked in a bottle of tramp scotch, we're not taking it terribly seriously. A Dutchman catches us hi-fiving over his back, and we give a German Doctor a round of applause afterwards.

Truth to tell, we're both a bit smitten with the German Doctor, who is called Ralph and is very keen we visit him in Berlin. He has a constant humourless smile, a lot of muscles, and is wearing lime green flip flops. The nurse is impressed. “So practical and cold! Oh, I wish I could take him home to mum. A rich doctor. She'd be so proud!”

Afterwards, the nurse and I sit in McDonalds. We both try and buy salad, but they've run out (you always suspect McDonalds have just run out of salad since 1954). We sit, picking away at burgers. A strangely dressed mad lady shuffles past. “Have you got my food?” she demands of each of us. She makes a grab for our chips, but the nurse swats her off. She shuffles off round the restaurant, doing the chip grab.

The nurse follows her, his eyes caustic. “How odd,” he says. “For a mad bag lady she's got very expensive highlights.”

He's right. We ponder this.

We eat the last of our chips. Not because we like them, but because we don't want the bag lady getting them.

“How are you?” asks the nurse. “I was chatting to a psychotherapist at work, and she told me she doesn't think anyone in London is really happy. I'd never really felt unhappy until she said that. And since then i've wondered.”

We watch the people walking through Waterloo station. The nurse adjusts his shoulder strap, and heads for the tube. “You know, we should definitely do this again. And sometime, you could even come over and i'll cook for you. Group sex followed by Spaghetti Bolognese.”

He smiles and waves, and is gone.


Qenny said...

Night trains are such a disappointment. None of them is really like Pleasure Express at all. And the beds face the wrong way.

Skip said...

Really? I love them. Especially the scottish one, which has a delightfully 70s bar that stays open till 3am. What's not to love? Plus the complimentary breakfast is so amusingly vile.