Sam, who’s between jobs and delivering cars around the country to scrape a living, was stuck at Reading station, having missed the train to Newbury by four minutes. (I was subsequently told that the timetables have been shifted forward by four minutes due to the absence of the scheduled leaves on the lines; I’m not sure I believe this.) Could I help? Course I could. Pick you up at Reading station in about fifteen.
If you’ve been to Reading station recently, you probably need counselling. There’s been a huge cosmetic makeover, which as far as I can work out has halved the number of platforms whilst doubling the time needed to get between any two locations. (I’m probably being unfair; after all, they’ve only been at it for three years, hardly enough time to break something which was working fine, let alone repair it.)
I go there rarely nowadays, and he even less, so neither of us was particularly aware of the various ‘pick-up’ or ‘drop-off’ points. We had a hilarious series of phone conversations – “What can you see?” “Cars in a car park.” “I can see a pub called, um –“ “You’re in the wrong place…” “So are you!” – before we finally hooked up and set off for Greenham Common. We had a really good chat, which wouldn’t otherwise have happened.
Next day, Bee phoned me to let me know that someone had done a bit of road rage and seemed to want to reverse into her as she was parking, so she’d switched on her hazard lights, seen the aggressor off and caught the train to London. When she got back six hours later, the hazards were still on, but the car battery wasn’t. She called the rescue people and spent some time wandering round Waitrose until they called back to suggest that she’d best be getting a taxi home.
The taxi driver, on learning of her predicament, suggested that, instead of taking her home, he used his jump leads to start her car. Naturally, she snapped this offer up. He then thought he’d better follow her, just to make sure she didn’t break down on the way. I don’t know yet whether he made any charge, I’ll find out; I suspect not. Aren’t people decent?
The other good news is that Waitrose now do ossobuco cuts of veal, so that’s Saturday’s dinner sorted. It does mean that I’ve had to buy a pack of the despised saffron, but hey! One in ten years is pardonable, innit? Not even I would put turmeric in a risotto alla Milanese.