It was the latter that I was cursing myself about this weekend, as I was forced to take a nine hour round journey to visit my Grandmama on the National Distress (copyright S. Sculthorpe) /Peasant Wagon (copyright some rich cow I was at uni with).
Actually it wasn't too bad on the way up, I had my copy of Private Eye artfully wrapped around my copy of Heat, and managed to negotiate the blocked groaning bowels that is the Underground on a weekend quite speedily, although this did mean having to hang around the drafty 'departure lounge' with the usual collection of old people, students and lost souls. This seemed to go on for what felt like several overpriced-tea-fuelled hours as it would be fair to say that what I lack in spatial awareness I more than make up for in time awareness*.
I had to hop about in the rain for a while after disembarkment as 'Cirencester Taxis' turned out to be a bloke, who was busy,and who wrongly suggested that taxis pass the coach stop 'all the time!'. Londoner that I am, I have an inbuilt fear that anyone who hails a car on a faintly countrified lane ends up strangled with her knickers and dead in a ditch, so was very wary about using the old 'stick out your arm and hail anything that moves' technique. Actually this only seems to work if you are coming back from clubbing at 5am and accidentally wave down a police car to take you home, although this does mean a week as the subject of the neighbours' gossip.
Anyway, eventually I found a cab, found I could have actually walked the distance to the nursing home in the time it took me to find a cab, and went to see Gran. Usually when I come down I have, if not a relative (Spurs were playing so the relative was getting drunk in a pub) , then someone with a car with me, so we can bring a wondrous feast of non nursing home food, or even go out to a restaurant. Unfortunately the best I could manage was a cake that got a bit squashed en route and a pack of biscuits, so we were booked in to eat in the dining hall with the other residents.
Actually it wasn't that bad. Well, the air smelt of sprouts, not death, and it wasn't quite as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest as I feared. I admit there was a moment of slight panic as I entered the dining room to be faced with about fifty identical grannies (and two drooling grandpas). It was a veritable immobile army of little ladies with cotton wool hair and pastel cardigans, but thankfully my little old lady (why do I feel very creepy writing that?) is as vocal as ever, so I was able to pick my way across the sea of zimmer frames to her table pretty quickly.
It is a well known fact that people over the age of about seventy have no tastebuds and consider things like pasta, rice and flavours other than 'salt' as deeply foreign and wrong. This was reflected in the menu, which was allegedly a roast dinner, but in actuality was more of a boiled mush. To be fair, quite a lot of the residents have the upper body strength of mice, so perhaps that is the reason that everything, even the chicken leg, was so completely overcooked that it basically fell away as soon as you poked it with a fork. I just kept thinking of those Japanese people who live to be 120 by stopping eating before they are full, and was then harrangued by my gran for leaving something that might once have been chicken skin but was now a load of blobby fat.
The pudding actually looked alright, a lemon meringue pie, but it was then suggested that I could have something from the Sweet Trolly if I so wished instead. And rather like a gameshow I had to choose before seeing the much lauded sweet-laden entity, and rather like a gameshow once I had decided I would indeed gamble on a different sweet, a large tiered trolly full of bowls of different coloured...stuff all topped with whipped cream, was trundled over by an over smiley assistant.
I plumped for the brown mush, which I hoped would be chocolate mousse, but turned out to be chocolate Angel Delight; the whole trolly actually turned out to be Angel Delight of different colours, which was a bit of a cheat. Then again, I hadn't had any Angel Delight in about fifteen years, so thought it would be a charming novelty. Which it was for about two mouthfuls until I remembered that much like Turkey Drummers and Spam, Angel Delight is a food of childhood for a reason, the reason being it is highly suspect in both taste and appearance. And in a room which contains at least twenty colostomy bags, the appearance and texture of the chocolate desert mush weighed especially on my mind.
After lunch was spent doing uninteresting (for the purposes of this blog) things like chatting about my recent holidays and family members, then Gran fell asleep for a bit and I read a Radio Times and saw all the tv I was going to miss that evening. Then she woke up, we had squashcake and tea, chatted some more, before I got a better taxi number, called a cab and paid £3 to be carted down the road to the coach stop as it was raining.
The journey home was less straightforward, for one, I was stuck next to a woman who insisted on having the light on when I was trying to nap, secondly the driver thought it would be nice to turn the coach into a veritable sauna, and for three I accidentally trod on the remains of the cake while trying to cross my legs. Then there was lots of traffic and I was distressed to see that the Lucozade Clock had vanished (will blog more extensively about that later). My sneaky plan to cut time by being dropped off at Earls Court then went slightly awry when some bloke and I were left on the edge of a motorway, in the rain, about half a mile away from the Station.
Oh, and then to compound my joys, when we did arrive at Earls Court, some c**tpancake had thrown themselves under a train and so shut off the entire Piccadilly Line on top of half the other lines not running anyway due to repair works *cough* laziness *cough*. I therefore had to endure a crowded long schlep on the District Line, where I was squashed in those seats that inexplicably face each other, trying to avoid looking at the winsome American couple opposite (well, ontop) of me, who smelt of donuts and spent the whole journey stroking each other and talking about toothbrushes.
After about an hour in the bowels, I emerged at Archway in yet more rain. On the upside my prayers were answered and the driver of the bus was not the same driver whose vehicle I threw up on on Friday night. On the downside, all my amazing acting practise and 'what? me? Oh god no that would be my twin sister. I've just been visiting our gran. Look! I have squashed cake and smell of sprouts and everything!' went in vain.
I eventually staggered home at about 9pm, collapsed, realised I was hungry, decided I didn't want to live to 120 and so made a massive pile of toast, and collapsed again. The Flatmate dived on the remains of the squashcake, I neglected to mention the foot-cake interaction, and instead lay back and wondered how much it takes to bribe a driving instructor.
*Frankly it would be no great surprise if I turned up early to my own funeral and bitched at all the mourners out when they arrived five minutes late as 'I have been DYING of boredom for the last FIFTEEN minutes'.