The only time ive seen more drunk people on a train was on the overnight train from helsinki up to the north of finland, into the arctic, the land of snow crystal ice hotels and frozen lakes. The long and beautiful in between moments and hours of nothingness, of beingness, of the unexpected, the unknowing and the unknown.
The loos on the train dont work. The alcohol flows freely up and down the service trolleys on the carriages. Cans are consumed, brands that i do not witness for sale. People prop up the aisles. My train is destined for glasgow, Glasgow, via edinburgh. Hey glasgow, maybe hello. Another day.
I learn that to use my hotspot i must at least be on 3g and if everything says i have a connection but i dont connect then i might disconnect and reconnect. How wonderful it would be to have this knowledge at my fingertips. I wonder how much further forward i will be with my phone and my ipad, will they function fully, will i access support, will i be able to make calls? The last twenty hours have seen me taking too much technical advice instead of spending time with family. None of the advice though, can be tested, until i am back and my connections dont work, once again, and i am unable to phone home or for help.
Drinking takes the edge off things. Stops me fretting. Prime time now to miss a flight, another two froglets nearly gone, 55 minutes to my flight but twenty minutes to boarding and ive yet to drink half a glass and go through security and find the gate. All in good time. I love my lazy, disconnected approach. I was so anal about being on the spot, in time, on time, when i missed my flight to st petersburg that i learned it just doesnt pay. cutting it fine raises adrenaline. Excitement.
I like adrenaline. Just as Saturday, my adrenaline was raised, biking down hill, yorkshire hills, i sped and flew, scared even myself and caused comment all round, lost the flag from the tag. 40mph someone said, i dunno. No, poppy wasnt on board of course, my tag tandem and road to myself, if you forget all the cars. My greatest obstacles were other riders, not the cars, finickity, indecisive, uncommitted roadies. Anxiously i braked trying to anticipate their moves but then just piled through, safer alone. Mountain bike racing demands riding to ones strengths, I use my weight advantage downhill, totally focussed and making a zillion judgements a second to stay safe.
Later, someone said, youve surely been ‘Benjamised’. i remember all the rides Ben and i did and i know all the rides he still does and always will do with me. He is part of me. i take it as a complement but in fact, our lives just happened to coincide. I was so lucky nicola happned to meet him. It was while i was away. In australia. Is there a connection, a thread there i wonder? We met when i first came home. He wont want to meet me i said, but he did and we instantly connected, talking about bikes.
Others continue to comment on my descent, for me, long obliterated by my later paltry efforts, struggling up the ascents, when they were long gone. I try to expain i have a lower centre of gravity on a mountain bike, more stability, disc brakes, more tyre on the road. But, in honesty, my brakes frightened me, this was not my best bike, brakes fell far short of my expectations. later, when nic and i stop, to walk up a hill, red kite benjie comes to us and sits in a tree, rests with us, watches us, approves of us. The first of three such unusual sightings on the day. Have i said this before? Am i repeating myself? Its hard to know when my words disappear.
Adrenaline, yes, i know what you are thinking. i understand that if brought up in a world of fight or flight the demand for adrenaline is a guiding force. I know i constantly seek unease and challenge in order to feel safe. I have no sense of security other than railing against the world. The only life i grew up with was a world of unease.
Ten mins to boarding perhaps i should go through security.
I am the last to board. We are ready to leave. 13 mins early so far with 70 mins flight time instead of the published 85 mins. I am hopeful for my bus and my ferry. The engines are being tested. I sit at the back of the plane. I think ill be last to escape and will drown when the plane ditches but am pleased to sit alone. I swap my aisle seat for a window seat. Three seats to myself. I casually, happen chance, think, being right at the back means no one else will see me asking for a gin and tonic instead of coffee. how different this experience from the empty plane i first departed on just five weeks ago. Ten mins to departure time and cabin crew called to position.
Edinburgh has been hot and sweaty. It is clear though that it could be an exciting place to be. i think of all the english cities i dont yet know. I ponder a journey of city travel but i dont like cities. I really dont.
Eight minutes to departure and we taxi. I will arrive in time, fog being on our side. I will have a bed this evening. Cotton wool balls dance on a blue ocean, tomorrow i will swim.
Scotland is so huge. I still see land. Scotland. I love Mhairi Black. I want her for prime minister. I realise, too late, that a labour party communication carla brought up with her may have referred to action required for the forthcoming leadership election. But i quickly scanned it and let it go back to norwich, pocketed it amongst other semi important mail, knowing i would return to it soon, in my as yet, unknowingness that i would not, in fact, do so. Jeremy Corbyn, i am so with you. i respect and admire your very being. I will give you all my ever votes but could you somehow adopt mhairi black, can you win her over, get her back, was she ever in the labour party? I doubt it but we need her for our next prime minister. She is the voice of our future.
I am waffling. Gin and tonic on the plane. Skimpy light bulb clouds punctuate the fine blue sky. ohmygod just as i notice that, we are descending. So Soon. Too soon. Im not yet ready to depart. To leave this fuel filled drinking. The captain calls to prepare for descent. It is unbelievably early. We will land at 20.35 in rain he says but the sky is blue as we descend, descend into grey grey grey.
My ears are dense, i want more gin but my glass is empty. The cotton wool fills my ears, bangs and attacks. I yawn hello. I see blue beneath white. I feel excitment. White on white grey on grey. Fog dense fog.Ocean fog fog fog. Cloud clears, ocean, will there be land. Grey fog fog land. Land. Clear. Land
Of course theres no bus. I round up three english tourists and we share a twenty pound taxi ride each but we arrive. And i am surprised how excited i am to return to this little island. And I get on the ferry but I have no local money. I ask will he wait for me to get money and he says no he cannot wait, just get on board. So i do. And i am.
Soon, i will be home.