The dead wood stage

The other day I came across an old email in which I’m regaling a male friend with the trials and tribulations of my Sunday.  I was making the point that whilst his routinely revolved – and probably still do – around ensuring his roast was on the table by 1pm (honestly, I’ve barely recovered from The Archers omnibus to worry about lunch that early in the day), mine, in keeping with most women of my acquaintance, are usually taken up with a litany of errands, social busy-ness and sundry thankless tasks causing me to ponder whether three years later and seemingly no wiser, I may have finally reached the dead wood stage.

It seems Yahoo has decided to go up the pictures today. The email I thought I’d sent you at 10am this morning decided not to go but to languish in my draft folder all day, hence the apparent lateness of my hair appointment.

Have actually had an INCREDIBLY frustrating day:

6.15am: woken by inconsiderate, lead-footed bloke who’s shacked up with the woman above (more fool him).  Wouldn’t mind, but I didn’t retire until 1am.

7am: after fitful attempts to fall asleep, get up as by now room is flooded with sunlight and am wide awake.  Console self with virtuous thoughts about making the most of days like these.

10am: miraculously have managed to stick to (correctly pronounced) schedule i.e. have breakfasted, showered, dressed and even sent emails (or not, as it later transpires), and am ready to leave house with an hour to get to 11am hair appointment.  Mr Bluebird is indeed upon my shoulder.

10.57am: attempt to pay for a bottle of mineral water in Marks & Spencer (as will be “under the dryer” for at least 45 mins, dehydrating) but no tills are open.  Jobsworth informs me they can’t take cash until 11am on the dot.

11.00am: leave M&S in huff but not before spotting my favourite Spanish tortillas in deli cooler.  Plan to return après hair to purchase as local branch does not stock.  Sprint to salon.

11.03am: arrive.

Barbara Eden as style icon Jeannie

11.45am: despite insisting that I only want a teeny trim off the overall length, stylist (of three years who should know by now) proceeds to chop off 2”-3” whilst relating tales of woe pertaining to vindictive area manager.  Thankfully had presence of mind to bring along I Dream Of Jeannie/Barbara-Eden-style-clip-on-poni-tail-wiglet-thingy as cannot attend social event minus trademark tresses.

12noon: am placed under dryer with assortment of women’s periodicals and a not bad cup of tea.  Read about cast of Desperate Housewives for the umpteenth time.

1.00pm: am released from dryer torment.  Face has turned puce.  Am combed out, bouffed and wiglet is attached.  Look like a Shindig! podium dancer or an extra from Austin Powers.  Vow to own go-go cage before 45th birthday.  And Le Corbusier caramel leather recliner by age fifty.

1.25pm: purchase tortilla.

1.40pm: mobile beeps. Couple who’d said they’d be going to housewarming around 4pm and would meet me at North Greenwich tube are in fact there already. Typical.  Not a problem as Dave will leave party, drive out and meet me but I must go to Woolwich Arsenal BR instead as is nearer (apparently).  Heart sinks as journey is bound to be plagued by Sunday service shortcomings/essential maintenance…

2.30pm: after hideous, sweaty bus journey arrive home but am delayed by friendly neighbour on driveway.  Am annoyed with self as always forget she’s terribly short-sighted so could probably have sneaked in communal hall undetected.  Joined by second talkative (and slightly paranoid) neighbour so feel obligated to stop and chat as will look like I have a favourite.

2.50pm: Shower. Change.  Redo make-up.  Spray new ’do to death as second neighbour mentioned rain in manner of harbinger of doom.  Transfer guacamole to Tupperware box.  Place tortilla in fridge.  Grab nice bottle of chilled Chablis.  Remember pile of CDs borrowed ages ago as favour to Dave and Jane who cannot burn CDrs.  Deliberate over whether to take brolly.  Decide against.

3.10pm: Leave house.  Sun has reappeared.  Hurrah.

3.20pm: Arrive at Streatham BR for journey to London Bridge.  Attempt to purchase a ticket from machine as all counters shut.  Task impossible as “touch screen” technology does not work.  Wonder how many germs lurk on screen.  Mumble profanity.  Decide to pay at “other end” as have Oyster card and winning smile.  Trek to platform to discover there is no train service beyond Herne Hill.  Must take replacement bus service from there.  Utter further profanity and stomp off in direction of bus stop.

3.25pm Am now on third sweaty bus journey of the day en route to Brixton.

3.35pm Am chatted up briefly by polite foreign bloke who wants to know how far it is to Brickton (sic).  Bless.

3.45pm Arrive at Brixton underground and purchase bottled water and a KitKat (emergency rations) in case power fails and am obliged to boost morale of carriage occupants and/or lead people to safety.  Remember also have wine and guacamole (and two bags of corn chips) so could throw impromptu Tube party if the worst comes to the worst.  Worryingly also have James Taylor CDs.

3.48pm Arrive at Stockwell.  Change to Northern Line.

4.15pm Arrive at London Bridge.  Purchase ticket to Woolwich Arsenal from automated machine as instructed.   Have doomy feeling on discovering am miles from relevant platform.  Bag weighs a tonne.  Am starting to feel really cheesed off.

4.17pm Discover there are no trains to Woolwich Arsenal.  News is delivered in manner one might use to address a very small child or deranged person.  Apparently must go to Plumstead.  But have just missed train.  Must wait until 4.35pm.

4.19pm Purchase iced coffee from AMT and eventually find seat on platform away from smokers.  Drink iced coffee too quickly and regret instantly as mouth now tastes bitter and am obliged to use grim-looking Ladies room at other end of platform owing to diuretic effect of said beverage.

4.22pm: Decide to brave Ladies.  Am mildly disconcerted to discover a man washing his hands.  Oh no, is slightly butch-looking woman with rucksack and sensible hairdo.  Instantly feel excessively trivial and girly as am wearing turquoise lily in hair, matching mules and dress with (discreet) sequin appliqué.  However, am delighted to discover sufficient paper, soap and hot water.  Maybe Britain has finally got a clue.  Apply mascara as left house hurriedly and forgot.

4.27pm: Assist small child to work soap dispenser as understandably her father does not want to enter Ladies and risk contravening some bye-law.  She is very polite and thanks me in perfect English, even though her papa addresses her (from beyond the door) in German.  Am impressed.

4.32pm: Mobile rings.  Is Dave to say they are leaving at 5pm – am I still coming?  Melanie (who is my only connection to hostess) is also leaving at 5pm.  ****!  She told me she’d be there until 8pm and would run us home as she lives half a mile from me.  Am stymied as have only bought single ticket and swapped everyday handbag for smaller, party-type variant so do not have wallet with cards.  Am passed over to hostess but cannot make myself understood above combined station and party clamour.  Know no-one else at gathering apart from her.  Don’t want to go and be marooned with strangers so make my excuses.

4.33pm: After a moment’s deliberation, decide to head back just as train pulls in.

4.37pm: Muse on concept of all dressed up and nowhere to go.  Feel like Mary from the Shangri-Las.  Too proud to blub in public though on point of tears owing to sheer frustration.  Think “friends” could have agreed to meet me at Plumstead and collect their blinkin’ CDs, if nothing else.  Muse on potential merits of hacking “dead wood” from life.

The infamous Tower, Colliers Wood - if it can't be demolished, at least let it be spruced up a tad.

4.47pm: Once aboard southbound Northern Line train decide to alight at Colliers Wood, exit station and phone brother who loves guacamole so that entire day is not in vain.

5.10pm Arrive Colliers Wood.  Call brother but is out. Probably working.

5.12pm: Head back to Balham.

5.18pm: Arrive at Balham.  Spot bus, so must run in mules carrying heavy bag of party favours. Congratulate self for catching bus and not breaking ankle in process.

5.35pm: Arrive home.  Decide to sample guacamole.  Is delicious.  Contemplate delightful evening ahead with self catching up on telly, writing and chores.

5.38pm: Must not be selfish and keep all guacamole. Is too good.  Must share with the world.

5.40pm: Decant portion of guac. into dinky ceramic dish, cling film and take to neighbour explaining dreadful travel gyp which has led to my premature return.

5.42pm: Neighbour explains she is having second neighbour round for drinks so I should come, too.  Agree to join.

6pm-8.20pm: Enjoy delightful and relaxed catch-up with neighbours one and two who fall upon guac. with genuine relish.  Am relieved to learn have not lost culinary touch.  All’s well that ends well.

8.50pm: Discover More 4 is showing my favourite episode of Father Ted (the Elvis talent contest) and that Curb… is on immediately afterwards.  Life is sweet.

9.25pm: Ten minutes into Curb… Jane calls to ask whether I got home OK.  Is thinly veiled female attempt to gauge how hacked off I am.  After listening to vacuous waffle about gathering I missed, can take no more and utter my favourite lie: “I hate to be rude but…” Whip crack-a-way!

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1 Response to The dead wood stage

  1. John Alexander says:

    Great writing and even better reading! John X

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