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In Darkest Surrey and the Way Out

  Thu 29th November 2012

Trina wants me to meet a significant other, a girl she met in the queue for registration at Uni forty years ago. Trina got talking to her and pointed out that A-D meant your county of origin, not your surname. Trina offered to share her sandwiches and they went for a half of cider in the bar.

They've been close friends ever since. Significant Other got a First in Germs and a PhD in Dirt followed by a post in a central London hospital, where she fell for her future husband as he manhandled computers the size of wardrobes. Trina warned me he was "boring" and "characterless".

Significant Other met us at Euston. I shook her hand and apologised for us being late. Then I remembered an edition of Blind Date when a woman recorded her first impressions of her date as "reserved", saying "he shook my hand"; so I placed a kiss from the Guardian's etiquette manual on her cheek. What is the correct way to greet a new female?

We were to meet Mr Boring at Farringdon. Significant Other proposed the awkward route based on the misleading cartography of the tube map. Feeling as though I were taking over straight away, I suggested we walk to Euston Square instead and get a direct tube. Typical man, I worried she'd be thinking.

The Thai meal posed some difficulties because of my Condition, which obliged me to excuse myself to induce vomiting. Trina noticed; the others didn't. Mr Boring was talking about the difficulties of working within trendy bare brick walls in a piped music and table footballed environment as a sixty-year-old computer programmer for a big supermarket chain. I didn't see how this intelligent, chatty man could be considered dull.

He led us round some of Farringdon and Clerkenwell's finest real ale pubs, glad, I think, to have some company separate from Significant Other and his work colleagues from the Visible Underpant Generation. I was a North Country dilettante, constantly distracted by things of interest on a wondrous tour of beer and architecture combined.

St Peter's Brewery tap, The Jerusalem Tavern

On the train home, all of us tipsy (one get doesn't drunk in Surrey, one gets tipsy), we were loosely doing crosswords. I answered a phone call from N who wanted me in the next D**ke*s production he's organising. From the audience's reaction my response may have lacked a degree of finesse.

"You fake", Trina said. "What a crawler", Significant Other said. "Using your children as an excuse." "It's a small town," I said. "You can't be honest all the time."

Good beer, but I know how Oliver Twist felt now

Next day, we went round Borough Market, and I began to feel uneasy that Trina was paying for almost everything. Lunch was a skimpy affair, a mixed "platter" hardly larger than a tea plate, but redeemed by the bitter they brew feet from your table.

The Tate Modern wasn't a good idea. The South Bank is cold and ugly, her dodgy hip was flaring up, and neither of us were in the mood for wading through panels of artspeak. I was relieved when she suggested going to another pub. We found Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, and descended into its cellars to join the belanyarded classes in their post-work socialising, which sometimes seemed to have the air of an extension of work.

On the train back she was composing a text to our hosts. "Erm... 'We had a lovely time and Looby...' Looby what? What shall I put?" "Looby thought your husband wasn't as mind-numbingly boring as Trina had made him out to be."

We started thinking about a possible project for next year--visiting the city now in northwestern Ukraine, from which Trina's grandad fled, avoiding thereby being one of the eighteen thousand Jews of the city murdered by the Nazis in Operation Barbarossa. He ended up initially in Hull, which one could argue is a refuge preferable only when the alternative is being murdered.

14 comments

Comment from: [Member]

always nicest when you are delightfully surprised. this is why it’s a healthy strategy to lower expectations for most people before you meet them…

Thu 29th November 2012 @ 12:04
Comment from: [Member]

I’m going to tell everyone that all my friends are right wankers.

Thu 29th November 2012 @ 12:08

Depends…is that initial kiss with or without tongue tips?

She shouldn’t have tattooed him with the “boring” and “characterless” tags before you met him. It wasn’t fair.

Cats rule this plant. Is there any doubt?

Thu 29th November 2012 @ 12:12
Comment from: isabelle [Visitor]

Why can’t we have galleries without the artspeak , they’d be so much more enjoyable.
‘Condition’, are you allergic to Thai food?

Thu 29th November 2012 @ 12:14
Comment from: [Member]

Crikey, everyone’s online at the same time.

UB: I can imagine that when Trina and her friend get together he just ends up not saying much, because Trina is a chatterbox and there is (dons asbestos suit) that variety of overlapping female chatter about domestic things and children which bores men into resigned silence.

Isabelle: I know. Everyone knows it’s a pile of toss, but everyone carries on doing it.

I have a hiatus hernia, which means that certain foods–processed, refined carbohydrates especially–cause my diaphragm to seize up and things to get stuck half way. You can either wait half an hour, an hour, two hours for it to go away, being unable to show one’s face in company in the meantime (since there are other symptoms I won’t go into at lunchtime), or take a more interventionist approach to sorting it out.

Thu 29th November 2012 @ 12:26
Comment from: smallbeds [Visitor]

Now that’s not fair on Hull. The only reason Hull’s got such a bad reputation is that it’s a dump.

As I’m finally coming to terms myself with various low-level intolerances resulting from a H pylori infection, you have my profoundest sympathy for your Condition. A tragedy of youth is that it takes a fully functioning digestive system for granted.

Based on my experiences, here’s a Get Well Soon verse that you might appreciate:

Sorry to hear of your hernia
I don’t mind you making a fuss
You’ve acid reflux that might burn ya
And other things we won’t discuss

Thu 29th November 2012 @ 13:24
Comment from: [Member]

Thanks you very mcuh SB–laughter is indeed the best medicine!

Thu 29th November 2012 @ 22:30
Comment from: furtheron [Visitor]

Hull. It must have been bad to into Hull! ;-)

Fri 30th November 2012 @ 08:46
Comment from: [Member]

Poor lad. Hounded by fascist murderers, only to end up on Humberside.

Fri 30th November 2012 @ 09:26
Comment from: Kolley Kibber [Visitor]

I’ve been to both of those pubs - great for eavesdropping, but neither of them a place where I’d wanted to spend an entire evening. And Borough Market does my head in, especially at weekends - overexcited middle-class Mums in Monsoon hats, feeding wild boar burgers to their ingrate offspring at ten quid a throw.

But I’m quite interested in the place that brews feet.

Sorry to hear you have a hiatus hernia. Not pleasant at all. People still get very sniggery about hernias of any kind, but as you will well know, they’re not remotely funny.

Fri 30th November 2012 @ 10:15
Comment from: [Member]

IKWYM about Borough Market. It’s not a proper market, like Liverpool’s or Leeds’s is, and even on a Monday it was a bit posey, food as spectacle.

The best pub we visited, which I omitted for brevity and because the picture came out all blurred, was the Fox and Anchor. Now that was a stunner of pub, somewhere I could easily pass a week in!

Fri 30th November 2012 @ 11:10
Comment from: LC [Visitor]

The Jerusalem was my local for the three years I lived and worked in Clerkenwell. I spent many happy nights in there - the trick is to get in early and blag the table up on the mezzanine, it’s a great spot for people watching.

Also, a girlfriend and I once snuck into Borough Market when they were filming Spice World there, but we were ejected by security before we could throw anything at Ginger or Posh.

/relurks

Sat 1st December 2012 @ 20:16
Comment from: young at heart [Visitor]

yes….the market is a seething tourist trap but to dis the whole southbank????? Shame on you……!!

Sun 2nd December 2012 @ 10:00
Comment from: [Member]

Hello LC–yes that table was obviously the best one but was snapped up by 9.30. We sat in the front window. Really pretty Oxfam chic barmaid too.

YAH–I don’t like that brutalist grey concrete, and the bars are all plasticky.

Had we had time I’d have shown Trina my favourite pub round there, the Kings Arms, on Roupell Street, where almost every house is listed.

Sun 2nd December 2012 @ 12:58


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