And so, at almost exactly the same moment as my last post appeared, where I celebrated a Bank Holiday weekend of freedom by featuring a song called Breakout, my own personal irony-o-meter hit peak readings as I suffered a rather embarrasing Breakout of my own.
Once a week, I will try to get into the office by 8am, which means I can leave at 4pm (rather than 5pm) if I choose to. Generally this will fall on a Friday, for there’s no finer work-related feeling than an early finish on a Friday afternoon, especially when you don’t have to be back in the office again until Tuesday morning.
And so, my plan for the weekend began to take shape; I would hop on a bus down to the supermarket close to my flat, stock up on booze, and head home again, ready to have a Friday night tipple to assist with the composing of some words for y’all to chow down on.
What I had failed to take into account was just how bloody hot it was yesterday (and is apparently set to be for the rest of the weekend). On public transport is an unforgiving place to be when it’s hot, and despite positioning myself on the top deck at the epicentre of where all the moving air from the open windows would converge, within minutes every pore seemed to be expelling more moisture than I thought it physically possible for one body to have retained.
To add to this, the bus etiquette of some of my fellow travellers was annoying me before my arse had even touched the seat. Despite there only being about five people, including myself, on the upper floor of the bus, two people were sitting in seats either side of the aisle, but having a really loud conversation with each other. Look: if you want to talk to each other, sit next to each other so the rest of us don’t have to listen, will you?
And then the bus driver kept getting messages from HQ that he must even out the flow of bus traffic by waiting at the next stop – even though nobody was getting on or off – which did very little for any hopes I had of being cooled down by a breeze whooshing its way down the bus.
By the time I got to my stop, I was dripping with sweat and frankly in a foul, not even slightly weekend-ish, mood.
There’s a convenience store across the road from the bus stop, so I decided to pop in and get something cold to drink. Picking out a bottle of water from the fridge – something I could quaff down in one go without fear of inciting the heartburn horror I often suffer from – I got to the till, and reached into my pocket to pull out the collection of coins I had amassed.
And as I did so, I felt one fall to the floor. I glanced down: a 5p. Sod it, I’m not worried about that. I handed over the correct money for my beverage and turned to leave, unscrewing the bottle top as I did so.
When I was stopped in my tracks by a voice: “Excuse me!”
I turned back, to see an elderly couple beckoning me back.
“You dropped some money!”
“Oh, it’s just 5p,” I said, “thank you but don’t worry about it.”
“No,” said the lady member of the couple, “you dropped this too.”
She was pointing towards her foot; I looked and next to it was a 20 pence piece.
Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have bothered with that either, but since she had gone to all of the effort of protecting it by standing over it, and then calling me back, I figured the least I could do was show some gratitude.
“Oh, thank you,” I said, as I knelt to pick it up.
But there was a problem.
Thursday night in Dubious Taste Mansions had been a particularly exciting one, for it had included me cutting my fingernails. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, the life of a blogger is one non-stop rollercoaster ride of fun sometimes.
The thing about fingernails is this: you don’t realise how useful they are for picking things like 20 pence pieces up from a shop floor until you find yourself faced with such a situation the day after you’ve cut them and suddenly find yourself completely incapable of performing what on the face of things should be a very simple task.
For devoid of cuticle, the coin resisted my grip, and eventually skittled underneath a shelf of crisps. Yes, it would have been more poetic had it been a shelf containing nothing but Skittles, but this is life, and sometimes life isn’t poetic.
Sometimes life is an absolute bastard.
“Oh terrific,” I said as the coin slid out of view.
It would be at this point that I would normally have shrugged and given up, but the little old lady was having none of it. I straightened and looked at her, and she had this quizzical, eyebrow arched, expectant look on her face. She had taken the time to protect my 20p and by God she wasn’t leaving until it and I had been happily reunited.
And so I went to kneel on the floor, better placed to grope under the shelving unit for my coinage, but as I went down all I could hear was the sound of stitches popping and fabric ripping. Suddenly I felt like I was in my own Carry On film: this was my bra-popping-off-an-exercising-Barbara-Windsor-in-Carry-on-Camping-moment.
I stood up immediately, my face now redding through embarrasment rather than heat.
“And now I’ve ripped the arse out of my trousers” I announced to the elderly couple, the cashiers, and the queue of people waiting to be served.
Surely to God we can end this now, I thought, but she was having none of it. For little old lady, at least 30 years my senior, effortlessly got down on her hands and knees, reached under the shelf, produced the coin, stood and handed it to me with the words: “I think we know what you’ll be putting this towards.”
I thanked her, and shuffled out of the shop. Fortuitously, I had my shoulder bag with me, which I always have slung at Hooky’s Bass levels, so I was able to position it over my exposed, sweaty backside as I hurried home to change into something else, something that didn’t make me look like Paul Rutherford out of Frankie Goes to Hollywood in his arseless chaps.
And all the way home, every person I passed, seemed to be laughing, and they’re laughing at me.
I tried to think of an appropriate song. I couldn’t come up with better than this:
Yeh, go on, laugh it up.
Welcome to the weekend.