A Rickety Track

Being the sort of South East London woman I am, direct, unashamed and proud, all I will admit until the day I pass about my most recent experience on that public convenience in First Class is this; the fish-eyed, flat cap wearing urchin with breath to burn boils off skin, rescued me from a carriage ride from hell. I tell you, it was his street-smarts and fondness for footing it through tough terrain was which saved me from frostbite and an evening of slumber in an ice-coffin. 

Those poor souls who remained onboard the public convenience surrounded by all that snow spent the night shivering and from what I read in the daily papers the following morning, slept on luggage racks wrapped in the clothes in which they boarded and borrowed blankets. Could you imagine actually having to talk to the common class passengers? I’d rather have died.

Andrew, my useless husband  will never live this down, nor will his mother’s antique terrine serving dish see the light of day for as long as I care. In exchange for my rescue, I proudly presented the urchin with the toothless grin, mother’s terrine. Once I explained to the urchin how he could bathe in it, or put beer in it, he accepted the gift and I made him promise to never return to my street. I’m not convinced he understood what I were saying as his gaze never left his reflection.

Calling out for Andrew or Botley with no response, I stormed towards the garage expecting to find my useless husband sawing another piece of wood for his ridiculous tree beehive. Yet, nothing, not even a spec of sawdust.

Checking our wall calendar I spied an illegible entry in Andrew’s scrawl. Unsure and to be honest, not really caring I’m convinced it read, chicken coop. 

To have our home to myself, I could think of nothing more comforting than a long, hot bubble bath, a very large gin and tonic and some relaxing music for ambience.

There are many things about Sandra I adore and her timing is one of them. Sarah Vaughan had just finished playing on the CD, the bubbles were starting to lose their lustre and the water began to tepid when the landline called out. A bright and breezy invitation to meet Sandra for a few glasses of bubbles and gossip were not to be dismissed. Of course I said yes, even if it were to meet in an hour. Sandra was lovely, she gave me an extra thirty minutes since I had recently finished soaking. 

I didn’t care Botley was not present when I were dressed, perfumed and quaffed. Andrew’s lack of presence made no difference. I am a South East London woman with new experiences to draw upon and by joining the rank and file in First Class I’ve been liberated from the need of depending on such depravity. I can take a public convenience to the city and with a nod to the lady with the drinks trolley, I was prepared for anything. 

This time, at my local train station I approached a smiley man behind bulletproof glass. A first class ticket, I requested. The most expensive ticket to watch Andrew frown, you understand. Moments later, the orange cards were pushed through the metal grill and into my hands. 

Quite liberating this public convenience. It’s such a discovery for future moments, one I shall keep to myself. I am never letting Andrew off the hook, no matter how much those past experiences have benefited my new found freedom. 

As I bathed in the warmth of my dear friend Sandra in the comfort of our regular window table, Georgi with a tray of glasses tempting us with refreshing bubbles and salmon, cottage cheese and chive blini’s on white porcelain plates, I felt at home as Sandra invited me to her sister’s home. At this point the glow of the afternoon began to twilight. This would mean taking the public convenience into the countryside. 

Although, I have discovered my new unfound freedom with a sense of safety and comfort darting across Greater London, should something go astray, as I promised myself in my ambient bubblebath, I were convinced I could call Botley to retrieve me. Or call Andrew at last resort, but then I thought a final last resort would be to take a bus, God forbid. I quiver at the thought, as goodness knows where they go or finish up. At least when the public convenience is on a set of rails, it gives me some comfort to know it will end at some stage and hopefully proceed in the correct direction. A bus is too unpredictable and unruly. 

But, Sandra’s sister’s place in the country is a bridge too far. The comforting fact I have on my side, this time Sandra will be with me. Instead of jostling me towards an unknown First Class seat. 

What could possibly go wrong? 

Besides, I’ve only heard about her sister. To meet her could be nice. Surely?

– Harriet

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