Morning from the train. The man to my left is feverishly drawing graphs. The man on my right is reading a Land Rover message board. In the scheme of things, these are both acceptable commuting pastimes.
Last night I went to see Paul at his flat in Surbiton, where we recorded the latest instalment of the Cricket & Doctor Who podcast. It’s been an exciting time in both these universes, with England falling to a plucky 2-0 series defeat during their tour of the University of East Anglia, and Doctor Who doing an entire series of two-parters*, pleasing those of us with a weakness for preposterous cliffhanger scenarios.
The graphs are getting ever more feverishly drawn, and I’m beginning to assume the man has to keep drawing them to maintain the laws of physics. If he stops modelling, the train floats away.
It must be a remarkable burden for him.
After tea and podcast, Paul took me to a pub turned Nepalese restaurant, in the heart of leafy Long Ditton. As we walked in, Mansun’s Wide Open Space was playing on the sound system. We discussed the insanity of housing as a commodity not a right, the limitations of Corbyn’s social media focus contrasted with David Cameron’s frequent appearances on This Morning, and whether we are blind to this country’s remarkable social progress. We’re better than a lot of places still, was the narrative. But to me, Paul was preaching small mercies – like the fact the Tories are now officially no longer openly homophobic and that we don’t debate access to abortion like in America in any way makes up for the assault on other, equally profound freedoms.
And it was that lingering ‘still’.
We ended up walking back to the Lamb pub, which I used to frequent back in my 9 month rental life as Paul’s near neighbour. I remember my last straw with Surbiton was wanting a cornetto at 10:30pm and there being nowhere open to sell me one. There are some things you can’t forgive. I left soon afterwards.
The Lamb is a good pub still, with an eclectic playlist (we were greeted with Pink Floyd into The Streets into Glenn Miller) and friendly staff. Here the topic turned to some of the more lively episodes in my ancient love life, and most notably (for me) the Sliding Doors moment of getting kicked out of Glastonbury 2003. It’s difficult to imagine now, with our goldfish bowl lives, but back then you really could fail to turn up to a cafe in a field due to a misunderstanding with some Northern Irish security guards, and never see someone again.
I don’t know. Of course the above is still possible, but it seems unlikely now. The same way as how I don’t understand how you can write realistic thrillers in a smartphone universe. Chesterton’s
The Man Who Was Thursday would have been a lot less exciting if turn of the century anarchists had access to CityMapper.
And so to bed, sweaty dreams, and the early train to work.
* so far