This has been a crazy week in which much has gone not-quite-according-to-plan and yet disaster has been narrowly averted. I think it began midweek when the exhaust fell off my car. It went a few weeks back for the first time, not quite so drastically, but so that I felt I was driving a souped-up rally car. There’s no mistaking that gutteral roar of a perforated exhaust. Anyway, Mr Litlove took it in to be mended and returned it half-fixed, with the instruction to ‘see how it went’. Yeah, right. So inevitably, on Wednesday, I was headed into town when the bad noises started up again, and as I tried to get back home, things took a turn for the worse. It was clear I was dragging something screeching and protesting beneath my wheels, and what a spine-crawling, teeth-gritting sensation that was.
I limped to the nearest exhaust and tyre place and watched my poor car go up on the ramp, where the damage was clear to see. They said they’d fix it that afternoon, once the part had come in, but this was not the sort of salubrious joint where you can hang about waiting. It was like an oily aircraft hanger with three office chairs in a row, none of which I particularly wanted to sit on. So I rang Mr Litlove to outsource the thinking as my brain was already overloaded, and he said: get a taxi home. I persuaded him to come back from work a bit early so we could collect my car later in the day. But this was all very unhelpful and time consuming as I had a little book club gathering at my house that evening for which I wanted to prepare. Well, I did manage to tidy the house and fix up some snacks and even print out some questions for us all – this was a clever feat by Mr Litlove as the ink cartridge claimed to have run out, it being that kind of a week. But he printed them out in blue and that worked. In the end the car was sorted, food and questions were ready and we had a lovely evening.
The next day I was scheduled to go to London to meet with an editor I know. All was going okay until that last five minutes before leaving, which always stretch to ten and make you late. It began to absolutely pour with rain and could I find my umbrella? Well obviously not, and I still haven’t located it; how can I possibly have lost another? What do I do with them? I had a walk to the station and did not want to sit drenched on the train, so in end I remembered I had a cute hat. You might like to see it, so here it is:
So, late already, off I set and because my brain was frazzled, I took the wrong route to the station and thought I’d missed the train more times than was comfortable as I sat in queues of traffic, mentally rearranging my day. But by a miracle, I made it with about half a minute to spare. One of the things I did in London was to visit the Persephone shop. What a dinky place! Tiny front part, box shelves around the walls full of Persephone books, and beyond, desks piled high with papers, a stacked wall of boxes of copies, so clearly a shop, the office, the warehouse and distribution centre all in a few square metres. But it has such a charming old-fashioned air and feels very cosy. Naturally I came away with a few books: Greenbanks by Dorothy Whipple, The Winds of Heaven by Monica Dickens and Harriet by Elizabeth Jenkins. Ah, joy.
The meeting with the editor was very useful. I had a couple of ideas to run past her and she liked them both but needed to see full proposals. I’d been kind of hoping to avoid that, as the one thing I have consistently failed to crack over the years is proposal writing. Twenty years of academia has hardwired my brain and it just can’t seem to change. But it was good to be able to talk it all over with a professional, as it’s usually just me in a room with the thoughts going round and round in my head. She’s a really lovely woman and a lot of fun, so we had a good laugh. Nothing settled and a lot of work in prospect, but at least it’s clearer now what I have to do.
So, out I come from the offices and figured that if I picked up a cab, I could beat the rush hour home. I was walking down the road when I saw a lit up light. Once I’d got in the guy did a u-turn and started laughing, as I’d been walking in the opposite direction to King’s Cross. I really like cabbies in London as I’m usually lucky and get one who’s keen for a chat and a joke. This one thought I was hilarious and milked it for all he was worth, wanting to know where I was going and suggesting that if I’d kept walking I might have hit Cambridge before I got to the train station. In fact, I think I was extremely lucky, as the two other branch lines in my area were affected by accidents while I managed to travel home unhindered.
So, I sailed home, feeling invicible. Walked into the kitchen, noted the absence of my dear son, and decided to send him an arch and teasing text asking if he was eating at home tonight or staying over at his girlfriends’. Only of course, this being the week it was, my thumb slipped and I sent it not to my son, but to the window cleaner. He has not deigned to let me know what he thought of this, and I have yet to decide on my strategy next time I see him in the bookshop. I either rush forward full of apology or lurk in the back, avoiding eye contact. At least I provide entertainment for people. Mr Litlove laughed like a drain when, mortified, I told him what I’d done. Oh let’s hope for a smoother week next week….