Yes, it's true. The luck of the Sage still rubs off on whomever is in contact with him.
Hello, darlings. I'm home again and considerably richer. The streets of London are still paved in gold and similarly useful metals.
But I have a story to tell, and you want to hear it all, don't you? *cough* Don't you? Thank you.
We were tossed from the train at Colchester and expected to get on buses. Here I had my first experience of the Luck of the Sages. A charming man offered to carry my suitcase down the stairs and then up again. He brushed off my thanks - "the work-out's good for me". We were driven to Billericay!!(!) JonnyB's own namesake town. I was terribly excited. We drove through a smart and prosperous suburb, with houses dating from the Fifties to the Noughties, all looking prosperous and cheerful. We got on another train and a mother sat beside me with her little boy opposite me. He was polite and affectionate to her and she called him 'darling' in every reply. It was charming. The coach journey had been so quick that we caught an earlier train than expected and so arrived at Liverpool Street Station early too. I caught a bus. It was either a 205 or a 214; either is fine. I sort of switched off for a few minutes and was taken unawares by our arrival and sort of got off two stops late, which meant that I ventured down Pentonville Road a short way, which was quite exciting in itself.
When I arrrived at the flat, I was only mildly surprised to find that most of the tenant's furniture was still there. It was only 4 o'clock so I expected him to arrive back and pick the rest up. Soon, it poured with rain and so I was still reasonably understanding. I got on with my work and, at 6.50, left the flat for an early dinner. Saturday night, I knew I had to eat in good time if I wanted to be sure of a table.
There's a little Chinese restaurant just round the corner, most of the one-dish items are centred round noodles and it's cheap and reliable. When I went in, just behind another lone woman, she asked for a table for two and the waiter looked momentarily surprised when I said my table would be for one. Lonely and only, I would have felt if i were young or old or lacking in confidence. The middle-aged are most entitled to natural gung-ho, so I didn't mind. I ordered a chicken, chilli, vegetable, black bean and noodle dish and a large glass of red wine (I'd usually go for beer but I really wanted red wine on that chilly evening) and when it arrived I remembered one of the reasons for choosing this place. You eat more slowly with chopsticks.
It's hard to linger over a solitary meal, especially if, like me, you are used to eating as if it's a race to catch the first train. I made myself put down my chopsticks after each mouthful and sip my wine slowly. I eavesdropped on conversations, incuriously. The woman who had come in just ahead of me, who was wearing lovely shoes, asked for a cup of tea while she waited for her husband. Her hair was nicely cut, but a bit uniformly dyed. One has to get coloured hair right. Nice colour but didn't hit my personal spot. I suspect I'll have to go grey in God's good time as I couldn't contemplate hair that looked as if I was trying too hard (my hair looks as if I don't give a tuppeny damn, which is not good but not as bad as trying too hard and it not working. But then I'm a 60s chick and therefore relentlessly laid-back, hem-hem).
So, I ate and I stayed, while keeping an eye open so that I didn't take up more than my fair space. After all, it's not a large restaurant. It filled up. A couple came in while the waiter was busy and sat at a table for four, which left a table for two and one for four.
I finished my meal and sat contemplating the last inch of wine in my glass. When I'd drunk it, I wasn't looked at in a *hmm* sort of fashion, but nevertheless I asked for some tea. I sat quietly, still listening, drinking a large cup of jasmine tea.
Another couple came in and the waiter showed them to the table for two. "Can we sit here?" - they went to the table for four. "Of course", said the waiter hospitably, no doubt thinking 'fuck you'. I'd not do that, you know. I know what profit margins are like. The last time I went to that restaurant, similarly on my own, maybe three years ago, there was a queue by 7.45. They need not to turn away customers.
Anyway, I duly paid and left, pleased that I'd managed to spin out my dinner to an hour and a half, including walking time. By the way, the woman with the nice shoes, who came in just before me? - she drank her tea, paid and left. She was as solitary as I was, just not able to admit to it.
But that silver lining. You know that I'd have paid £75 for a hotel room + breakfast but baulked at £99 without? Or something like that, pfft, you think I read back posts? I expected to sleep on a wooden floor.
Hah. No,darlings, really. HAH. I slept on my errant tenant's comfy sofa-bed. I slept good. (excuse me, BW, but I slept well doesn't quite convey the message. I slept good.)
It was a 3 day visit. There is more to come.