Sitting here at the coach station, headphones on listening to some dreamy dance trance. I’m in observer mode again. The world is slower and everything is of interest. Everything that my eyes drink… A young Muslim girl in a matching citrus green coat to her mother’s stares at me, like one cat to another that knows there is something unusual swirling in my head. She shifts uneasily, disconnects and mutters to her mother then only occasionally does her eyes look up. The black youth a few seats to their right looks bored and too also stares at me but his eyes dart away when my stare meets his.
30 minutes to go before the bus ships out to Norwich and hang with my dad, and also Christmas dinner with my ex-girlfriend on Christmas day. I have to confess I’m not a fan of Christmas. I know I could get excited if I chose to be, but I chose not. Still, there is plenty to feed my eyes and nourish my mind of thought. The normal people… humans. I long since realized that I’m outside of all that. The girl is staring at me again but this time it’s me that looks away. The volume of the music dips and I hear the sound of another text coming through on my iPhone. As I pull the phone out of my pocket the music stops altogether as a phone call comes in. It’s my brother, Ian. He meets my words with the same level of festive enthusiasm.
We chat for a while and he rings off. I remember the text and glance down to see it’s the ex-girlfriend. She’s rattling around her house doing stuff for Christmas and my arrival for lunch tomorrow. In my case it’s one foot in front of the other and I’ll be there. She’s was no cat at all, Catholic, I sensed that Christmas was like the highlight on the calendar, just like some desperate retail store banking on a good Christmas period to sustain them through to the next.
The Morning Mission
My mind flicks back to the journey into work earlier this afternoon through all the disruption of last night’s severe storms. Trains were out left right and centre. I had got to East Croydon about 15 minutes later than I’d like to have done. The only train leaving that station was 8 minutes after I was due to be at work so that’s no good. I overheard one of the rail staff saying that getting to Mitcham Junction by Tram would give the greatest chance to get to London. Once I digested what that meant I scampered off. Charged towards the tram plan with a plan formulating, so much so that a family had to part holding hands as they sauntered towards me and in my way but in last panic separating like the red sea as my movements told them I wouldn't yield. Soon I was on the Tram to Wimbledon, though I’d get off at Mitcham. I sat and answered a text from the ex. Her reply was a finger in the ribs and I had to flick that mess from my mind. I was something about that I should have got moving earlier as she’d warned me about the rail problems 3 hours before. What the hell use was that to me? Was this meant to help her feel better as a "kind of told you so" smug-ness? Definitely not a cat. For a cat, focusing on solutions rather than telling everyone I'm so great is more productive. Their actions will do the talking.
On arrival at Mitcham Junction I skip across the lines to the rail platform but next the train won’t be there for over 20 minutes. I go in to pursuit mode now. Like an android alien bounty hunter mission that will not be denied. I prod the iPhone to the Rail app and see what it says about getting to London from here. It tells me that there should be a train in less than 10 minutes but services are disrupted due to the weather. Rail travel is fucked, so forget that. What do we have next, what is working? Trams and Underground!
Plan 3 is locked in place. Get to the nearest tube station. Wimbledon is one but that’s the district line which meant too many changes to get to where I need to be. Morden station will do it. Would mean a tram to Morden Road then a run from there to Morden Underground on the Northern Line. Sorted… let’s get it done. 6 minutes I’m on the tram, and less than 20 later arriving at Morden Road. An oriental dude runs up the steps to the street level and I’m right behind him. Despite these heavy Timberland boots, thick waterproof trousers, heavy backpack stuffed with clothes he’s actually holding me up. On the street now, I switch to "get there" mode and start to run. No, I will not stop its, ¾ of a mile away and I will not stop until I get there.
Once there I get through the barriers and head down the stairs. Each step is small and it takes many yards down before I click in the rhythm and fly down. I’d scoped the platform signs before reaching the bottom so when I got there just swung to the right and to the Northbound Northern Line. Not brilliant as the next train was via Bank and I needed Waterloo. I’d have to change at Kennington. As looked down from the sign I saw a slim smartly dressed lady older than me standing without a smile. She wasn’t smiling and yet as an aristocratic cat she was captivating. Beautiful even, as everything seemed so well put together. Her eyes focus hawk like but wider. Thoughts! I was moved to tell her that she had such elegance but didn’t manage to break out from myself. I continued to take long sips at her features. Her eyes, more green than blue but not green. The more I drank the more I felt I knew about her. Yes, she was definitely older than I by a significant amount but that meant nothing at all. Her hair was cut, styled and coloured a dark red/purple tinge matching a somewhat angular face perfectly. Her lipstick a real rose red.
I started to drift away, thinking of my own existing me and ex scrawny alley cat and what I could perhaps mean to a cat so complete. Ridiculous!!!
Soon it was time to get off at Kennington and she stayed. Once I stepped off my mind went back to android pursuit mode. I was thankful I was underground as I wouldn’t be comfortable write now with any more energy sapping texts. I’m in the hunt and have no need for petty distractions. The rest of the plan was to simple travel one stop to Waterloo and get off and run over the Bridge there. I would get shit hot over with that, as I was wearing insulated waterproof trousers and most of the clothes I’d needed for the next few day in Norfolk. I set a gear and pace that I could sustain and trotted over.
By the time I got to the office I was damp to the point that I was virtually steaming like racehorse in winter after the finishing line when peeled off my clothes I didn’t need there.
I pulled out the iPhone and texted the ex to say that I’d made it but not quitting as some had in the office. I’d instead done whatever it took. Yes, I was late by 20 minutes but I made it. There was only me and one other guy there as the other guy took the weather and rail disruption as a reason not to try.
The reply was again felt like another finger jab in the ribs wishing me to admit that I, after all that, in the end was still LATE!
An hour later I discovered that the meaning of that last text perhaps wasn’t quite what I thought, as she’d sent another that enquired if I’d arrived yet. Obviously some confusion…
I closed my eyes cat-like and could see the face, hair, eyes and lips of the lady on the underground, a much more enchanting vision. We Cat's are cool.