Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Chariots Of Fire, And Why Snow, MPs And Alcohol Don't Mix.

God, I'm knackered. I hardly slept a wink last night, because I woke up about an hour after I'd dozed off, and then I just could not get back to sleep. Bloody palpitations.

I think they were probably caused by the nightmare I'd been having just before I awoke. The Boss was driving a chariot through Northwick while dressed in a Roman centurion's outfit, and was making me pull the damn thing - on foot! It wouldn't have been so bad, if he hadn't kept whipping me every time I slowed down to catch my breath.

It definitely wasn't some sort of Freudian reference to my lack of a sex-life, as this was not the kind of whipping that anyone would enjoy, not even those people who apparently like hanging out in dungeons, while dressed in gimp suits. Mentioning no particular professions...

And I wasn't dressed in one of those pervy pony outfits, either, though I did have rather high heels on. It took bloody ages to pull the chariot past the market square, thanks to all the stupid cobbles. Architects never think when they decide on these silly "historic" road surfaces, do they?

After lunch, I realise what the nightmare probably signified: I must have been anticipating the inevitable blow-by-blow account of The Boss's journey back to Northwick after the *House rises for Christmas Recess. He always likes to make it as interactive as possible, and share the joy around.

Andrew's first call sets the scene:

"On my way to the station. Be back before the office closes."

"No need," I say. "There's nothing for you to do. Go straight home when you get off the train."

"Doesn't matter," he says. "I've got lots of stuff to give you to do. See you when I get there."

Greg groans when I recount the conversation, and decides to spend the next hour in the archive cupboard throwing darts at Andrew's photo. Then he returns to his desk, logs on to the Met Office's website and sits staring intently at the screen. For what feels like ages.

"What on earth are you doing?" I say. "You haven't even blinked for the last ten minutes."

 "Taking evasive action. I am willing it to snow as heavily as possible between London and Northwick," he says. "Right now."

I do a sceptical eyebrow raise, but Greg doesn't take any notice:

"Don't just sit there, Mol - help me! Visualise blizzard conditions and concentrate. We need to harness the power of our minds if tomorrow's Christmas lunch isn't to be cancelled because we've got too much work again."

I pretend to co-operate for a couple of seconds, but then I get bored and give up, so it seems that my mind may be rather short on power today. Greg keeps at it, though - and, eventually, it starts to snow again. Rather heavily - so maybe he genuinely possesses some of those telekinetic powers that Max accused me of having.

This is quite a scary thought, but seems to be confirmed when The Boss sends a text saying:

"Mayhem here. Next train cancelled."

Greg cheers loudly at this news, and then nips off to the pub for a celebratory gin. I start to wonder if he's telepathic as well as telekinetic when Andrew's next text makes clear that his thoughts have also turned to alcohol:

"No idea when next train's coming & it's too bloody cold to wait on station. Going for drink in bar."

Oh, dear. This won't end well. The Boss should never be allowed to combine alcohol and train travel but, when I try to phone him to remonstrate, he's turned his bloody mobile off. I don't hear anything more for a good few hours, and we are just about to lock up when the phone starts to ring.

"Leave it," says Greg, who has already put his coat on, and is waiting in the doorway.

"Can't," I say. "It's the bloody private line. Probably his Lordship. You go, and I'll lock up as soon as I've got him off the phone."

Greg waves goodbye, as I pick up the receiver.

"Molly," says Andrew, in a very loud voice. "I'm on the train."

"Ah, right," I say. "Don't shout, though. You sound like Dom Joly."

"I'm not shouting. And who's Don Jorrey?"

Oh, bloody hell. Doesn't Andrew get the simplest cultural reference? And, if that's not shouting, then my name's Igor and I am a singing postman. Which might actually help in situations where you know there's a rant coming, but you can't do anything to prevent it. If I started yodelling about brotherly love, that'd probably stop The Boss in his tracks.

But I don't know any Russian songs - except for this, which probably doesn't count - so I have no option but to sit silently while Andrew yells about the incompetence of Network Rail, the Travel Information Office, and Philip Hammond MP. He doesn't award Mr Hammond his *Rt. Hon, either.

When he finally pauses for breath - or for what sounds rather like a hiccup - I grab my opportunity.

"Andrew, is there anyone else in the compartment with you?" I say.

"Yes," he says. "A load of businessmen who look like bloody bankers and Jon Tiverton from the Northwick Daily Press."

"Well, then, for goodness' sake stop swearing," I say. "And lower your voice! They're probably all journos who are writing down everything you say. Think about what's just happened to Vince Cable."

"Can't hear you," yells Andrew, even louder than before. "But remind me tomorrow never to support this fucking train operator's application for the rail franchise again.

As I sigh and put the phone down, I'm sure I can still hear him shouting: "Bloody wankers."

Well, they say you can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Or even pull his own damned chariot, now I come to think of it.

*House - House of Commons, which rises for the Christmas Recess today, to the joy of constituency staff everywhere.
*Irony - see above statement.
*Rt. Hon - Right Honourable. See here for clarification, as I can't be bothered to explain after the day I've had.


  1. Magnificent!

  2. Thank you - unless you're referring to the sight of The Boss in his centurion outfit, which was definitely NOT magnificent!

  3. Should you ever again need inspiration for Russian songs and/or yodelling combined, try this ...


    Strangely compelling.

  4. Um, thanks. Though am hoping the need won't arise again. Ever.