Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Wilderness Years - The Midnight Train

 And so the adventure begins... If my first trip across the pond was a well thought out and planned excursion to see the world this one was more like an eight day tour of pubs and clubs (and Selhurst Park) that i could have done just about anywhere. The main worry was that Veronica was still trying to get her passports sorted and i had already had to get her ticket switched so that instead of flying out with me on a Tuesday night she would be flying out on Friday. That gave Gulfboot and i some male bonding time to get roaring drunk and carry on like the fucking muppets we were. While my first trip saw Gulfboot picking up me up at Gatwick, where we would spend a ridiculous amount of time drinking in an airport bar for some reason before hopping a train to his place, this time saw me and my travel pack navigating my way on my own to the lovely Streatham and wandering streets until i found the right apartment. Gulfboot having been out the night before was passed out and after a good fifteen minutes of ringing the buzzer and calling his flat he finally and groggily let me in. We then both proceeded to sleep before heading out for a proper fry up and cup of tea. 

The next sixty some odd hours were a debauched bit of fun where we did our absolute best to piss off the whole of the apartment building, Gulfboot receiving quasi-threatening letters from the building police on keeping the noise down because apparently the residents didn't enjoy our Newcastle Brown fueled rendition of Oasis' greatest hits. Why? i have no idea because i thought we sounded brilliant around 3AM. By Friday i had procured some gear and had taken up to smoking fat spliffs Kono-style meaning sans tobacco but sprinkled with hashish. Needless to say after one such session Gulfboot's cousin (a lovely guy chap) ended up face down on the floor passed out after an evening at the pub and the end of night joint. 

In between all the fun i was attempting to contact Veronica to see how the passport was moving along, time being of the essence here because i wasn't going to be here for a month. She was still having difficulty and finally had hopped a plane to Philly in order to get it sorted at the state office, a move that would leave her essentially broke if she could get herself to the airport and onto the plane. There was a point where i thought i had pissed away a cool grand and then some on a fever dream brought on by one hot and sweaty tumble on a couch that smelled faintly of dog piss, a little detail i had left out about that first night, and while i wasn't exactly thrilled about donating eleven hundred bucks to a now defunct airline i knew that i would make it up in the first week i was back. Stiv wasn't exactly thrilled with my little foray as it meant a temporary halt to the cash flow but what could he do? Oddly enough it was the soon to be Mrs. Gulfboot who had previously worked with Stiv and if our reader remembers, was the guy who clocked me when hearing people thanking me when they left the 759.  

So between pints and fry-ups and the occasional batch of fish and chips, i kept tabs on the likelihood of my caper coming to fruition. It was one of my last attempts at contacting Veronica before i said "fuck it" and tossed in the towel on my masterplan when i finally got a hold of her, she was excited to tell me that she got her passport and would be leaving Friday night, she was packing and getting ready and the she needed me to be there because the flight to Philly and the assorted fees and such for he expedited papers had basically drained what little she had left in her bank account. I told her not to worry as i would be there, in the proper place, at the proper time, even if it was a some god-awful hour. Her voice was excitement tinged with worry as she knew she would be getting on the plane with basically five dollars in her pocket which was basically all she had left to her name other than a return ticket to the States. 

And so what did our hero do the night before? he got ripping drunk! Luckily the pubs close early as compared to the States and we sauntered back to Gulfboot's with our pint bottles of Nukey Brown, which had been our standard the last few days, after a bit of craic Gulfboot helped me sort out a cab that would arrive about 4:30 in the morning to get me to Gatwick in time. I set the alarm and finally got to bed well north of 1AM. At 4:15 the alarm went off and i checked the window to make sure the cab wasn't there yet, tossed on some clothes, brushed my teeth, grabbed a bottle of desperately needed water and drank it down, grabbed another for the road and waited. When the proper time came there was still no cab and i was beginning to worry. As if on cue a cab rolled up and parked outside the place, i crept out of the flat and made my way into the cool English night... or was it morning? air. I hopped in the back and said hello to the big black geezer driving the cab. He had the faint hint of a Jamaican accent, greeted me back and hit the meter. 

As we pulled out he asked about bags to which i replied that i was picking someone up actually, a woman, he smiled and we began talking, i asked how long the trip to Gatwick was and he said i'd have time to relax as it was an hour or so. Being half-drunk i relayed the story to him about who i was picking up, talked about my "job" back in the States, how it had afforded me the opportunity to do things like this, it was a swell conversation, one i'm sure cabbies have to deal with often, i'm sure driving a cab in South London at 4AM on a Friday night/ Saturday morning (why am i thinking of the Specials?) can be a bit of a dicey proposition at times and i have the feeling he was relieved it was just some tall white geezer with long hair who sold weed in America. As i settled in for the ride, he looked in the rearview mirror and said, "have a kip mate, i'll let you know when we get there, what airline is it?" I told him and sat back ready for a bit more sleep when Gladys Knight and Pips Midnight Train to Georgia came on the radio. My man, i said to the driver, can you turn this up just a bit, you can turn it down when it's over but i love this fucking song. The driver smiled and said no worries mate and turned up the radio just a bit. I sat back and listened to the words, smiling in my head, thinking, she's leaving on a midnight plane for London, i grinned and listened to the song and by the time it was over i was half asleep as we made our way through the city, i slipped into sleep as the dark and damp South London streets slipped by. When i woke the sky had turned a dull grey and we were pulling into Gatwick Airport...


looby said...

Kin ell kono, that's another ripping yarn.

I really was thinkg Veronica wouldn't make it. "By Friday i had procured some gear", ha ha, your dopedar was working well in sunny Streatham!

Looking forward to the next bit as ever. I'm dying to know about your trip to the other side of the pond.

Kono said...

looby- gracias mi amigo... i'm trying to get started but i've been a bit distracted by the events here in the banana republic, what a shit show.