Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mary le your bone PET

(Worst. Title. Ever.)

So, yesterday. Lunch on the train up to London, where I rediscovered just how good Be your own PET are by listening to the earlier stuff on my mp3 player. After the obligatory airblade usage at Victoria it was up to Marylebone, and I have to say I do love changing from the Victoria to Bakerloo lines at Oxford Circus - a nice cross platform change. At Marylebone I met Jack, who was hiding behind a new haircut outside WH Smiths, and we proceeded to explore the station.

Which really didn't take long. First stop was the end of the platform to look back at the building. It's not very big at all, although apparently 6 platforms is the average size. Next stop was the toilets to find, disturbingly, a distinct lack of those hand-dryers we all know and love. Aghast, we continued around the station to find the pub and drink. On the way (about five paces from the toilets and five from the pub - it's not a large station at all) I spotted an internet terminal which proves that 2001: A Space Odyssey may have been more accurate than we first thought.

The pub. The Victoria and Albert, tucked away in one corner (from the Underground station, turn hard right, then right again, and run towards the cheese shop) of the building. First impressions were good - two pool tables, lots of pictures of steam trains, Sky Sports News on a huge TV (with the correct aspect ratio as well) and a quiz machine. Nice, comfy leather seats and a bit on the concourse where you can sit and watch the world go by. So we got our drinks (£4.20 for a Bulmers!) and did just that. We spent nearly an hour supping our pints, scowling at businessmen, discussing the media and watching pigeon aerobatics. While drinking we got to talking about the stations served by London's smallest terminus, and I realised that I had some unfinished business in Buckinghamshire.

Just over four months ago, in a galaxy far far away, me and Jack undertook a form of extreme commuting. As you may remember I failed somewhat in visiting all 274 stations that were on the network at the time - I was one short, missing out Amersham. So we topped up our Oyster cards (£5.50 for a zone 1-9 single! You could get a pint of Bulmers for less than that!) and went on our way. At 3:02pm, four months, one day, nine hours and seventeen minutes after we left Chesham on Children in Need day back in a freezing cold November, I completed the full network. In a freezing cold March.

After a quick check of the TfL journey planner on my pda I realised I had to get the first train back to civilisation in order to get to Kingston in time to buy some records. I had to go all the way into Central London and back out - good thing I run round tube stations for fun! At Rickmansworth our previously quiet carriage was invaded as the local schools kicked out, but bizarrely nobody sat near me and Jack. No pictures from this leg for obvious reasons. I waved goodbye to Jack at Harrow on the Hill, and he went back to Moor Park to take pictures. After a switch at Finchley Road I continued to Waterloo and darted through to the mainline platforms (avoiding snipers) and jumped on a train to Kingston.

At Kingston I realised that just wearing a battered leather jacket and short t-shirt probably wasn't the best choice of clothing as I walked past a brass monkey cradling his testicles. Trotting sharpish down to Banquet Records I spent nearly £40 on the Be your own PET, Operator Please and Los Campesinos! albums, plus two LC! vinyls. Back outside to kill time/queue up and I bit the bullet and spent £4 on a zip up jumper to keep me warm. The band turned up late (and clearly jetlagged, poor mites) so we weren't let back in til 6:15. The division between band and fans was marked by a piece of parcel tape on the floor which said "please do not cross". The crowd, once we all packed in, was deathly quiet and blatantly listening into the band's discussions. They kicked off with Black Hole, which those who had heard from a leaked version tried not to sing along to. This was followed by We Will Vacation, which everyone joined in with, and then The Kelly Affair which saw Jonas break his guitar and led to a five minute break. The momentum didn't disappear with the next song, "Adventure...on crack".

Open up your choice of mp3 playing software and cue up Adventure. Before you hit play, increase the speed to 1.5 times. That was what it was like, it was amazing. After a quick change of guitar again it was back to Zombie Graveyard Party and then the first song where Jemina actually looked like she was having fun, with Becky. This led into Food Fight, then Bicycle, and finally they closed with a furious rendition of Wildcat. We were then herded outside back into the cold to queue up for the signing, meaning those who were at the front of the set were now at the back of the queue (unless you sidled in next to two girls who were too scared to object - but once inside the store I let them meet the band ahead of me, evening out any karma). Sadly (or perhaps thankfully) Jemina didn't recognise me as "that asshole" and I got mine and Katy's albums signed and flitted out into the night like a moth to the...dark. I need better similes.

Despite the best efforts of South West Trains I made it back to Victoria in time to get my dinner, run round to the departure boards to see which platform the 20:03 train to Canterbury East was going from and found...that it had been cancelled due to a broken train at Chatham. Cursing the local scallies, who I'm sure just nicked the wheels off it, I put alternate plans into action and jumped on an Ashford train to go the long way round. I managed to get a seat, and then kept people from sitting next to me by producing the loudest, most pungent fart I've ever done in public. Hey, I got peace and quiet, ok?

What a note to end it on.

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