Episode 23: London/Alsager/Edinburgh/Teddington
Skin colour (Tom): Peter Andre
Skin colour (Jane): Andre the Giant
Location: 31,000ft, over the Bay of Bengal
Date: 18th August 2010.
Due in no way to popular demand, I’m penning a short update on our UK holiday while being deprived of sleep by a combination of Air Asia‘s non-reclining seats, food service at 3am and overenthusiastic Arctic air-con, and the chap behind me, who sounds like he has a loudhailer built into his throat.
As you can probably tell from the above, we’re not particularly enamoured with Air Asia, but they’re (relatively) as cheap as chips and we’ll use them again for that reason alone.
Aside from the penny-pinching, it was worth flying with them to hear a young English traveller-type (bleached messed-up hair, bracelets, a ukulele or similar) at the gate in KL proudly tell the security guy that he was called William Alexander “after two great English heroes……… William the Conqueror and Alexander the Great”.
How we sniggered, until I realised that he must have been telling people this since childhood and nobody has thought to correct him – “Erm, Bill, you do realise that one of them was French and the other Macedonian?”. Sadder still is the thought that in the circles he moves in, nobody knows that he‘s talking complete bollocks.
It was lovely to be back in the UK, albeit briefly, and to catch up with friends and families . It was, however, quite exhausting and we certainly feel like we deserve a holiday ;-). I had a couple of days in London catching up with friends and ex-colleagues, a couple in Stoke with family, a couple in Edinburgh and another couple back in London, while Jane bounced almost on a daily basis between London, Preston and Scotland.
The to and fro-ing was to attend two weddings – rudely organised almost as far apart geographically as possible and on consecutive days, with Jane being a bridesmaid at the first.
We really enjoyed them both (congratulations to David and Lynsay, Tim and Bryony), but when we spent seven hung-over hours on trains from Edinburgh to Teddington on the Saturday, we were berating Stephen Hawking and his nerdy drinking buddies for not having yet invented a matter transporter,
Actually, we were lucky to arrive in London at all, since minor indiscretions on Scottish trains are punishable by death. Literally the first human interaction I witnessed in Edinburgh was a minor commotion and a nasty-looking snarling skinhead say to a timid and slightly drugged looking woman “You do that again and I’ll batter your effing head off your shoulders”.
Such a charmer! I can only imagine what nastiness preceded this as they boarded the train. Perhaps she pushed in front of him, or brushed her bag against his knuckles as they dragged along the floor.
After this unpleasant start, Edinburgh went quickly uphill – the wedding venue was just a little plusher than the hostels we’ve become used to, boasting a snooker room, huge bedrooms with complimentary decanters of whisky in each and photos of the proprietor with the great and the good – everyone from Paul McCartney to the Pope.
Unfortunately for me, wedding number one included the dreaded ceilidh. I won’t divulge too many details about my ceilidh dancing at the wedding, but I felt a mixture of pride and disappointment when the bride succinctly summed up my dance with her as follows: “Tom, I can honestly say that you are the worst ceilidh dance partner I’ve ever had”. Praise indeed.
I later danced with another Scottish friend, who couldn’t hide the look of utter disgust on her face throughout the dance.
My “disco” dancing wasn’t much better. The first time I span Jane round, she fell to the floor and dragged me with her. She claims she wasn’t drunk, but I know for a fact that the bridal party had been drinking for many hours in the time-honoured way. She has also since retracted the claim of sobriety having seen photographic evidence to the contrary.
Amazingly, we didn’t come away with the title of most-embarrassing wedding guest. That award surely goes to the young man who disappeared at some point during the evening, only to be found after a lengthy police search of the estate, in a field, at about four in the morning. I wouldn’t have wanted to be him the next day (especially since he’d left his girlfriend at the wedding when he stumbled off).
The second wedding, at my aunt and uncle’s beautiful home on the Thames did not (thank God) include a ceilidh, but the bride and groom had instead plumped for “Rockaoke“ – where a live band provide the music and you provide the vocals.
It’s a fantastic idea and Jane’s rendition of Amy Winehouse‘s “Valerie” won rave reviews (honest). I decided after her performance that I shouldn’t share my version of “Crazy” by Patsy Kline, for fear of letting the side down.
Now that we’re out of the UK’s hair, we’re going to spend the next three or four days relaxing in Vientiane, Laos, whilst our fat ankles (fankles) – which ballooned on the flight – reduce from their current Nicholas Soames dimensions.
We also need some time to get to grips with the currency (the kip), which you’ll get 12,600 of to the pound. I can foresee some lengthy internal calculations in shops. I’ll be in touch again when we’ve got back into the swing of things.