So I was in London yesterday and made the really stupid mistake of wearing 5 inch heels when I knew full well I was going to be walking EVERYWHERE. But even that wasn’t the extent of madness that ensued, even though I did fall off them in Oxford Street and stumbled right into the arms of a rather gorgeous Eastern European on the phone (it’s true, I didn’t do it on purpose… Honest!!!).
Fast forward all the meetings – they went well, thanks and THIS time I managed not to poke Julian Friedmann’s eye out with a chopstick – and to the evening, where I had a few drinks with the fabulous Bride of Christ Elinor and generally put the world to rights, as laydeez are wont to do. We were *supposed* to meet the ill-time-keeping Jared too, so I told him 5 knowing he should be there around seven… Only seven comes and goes and he’s still not there. He’s texting and calling though, saying he’ll be there *any minute*, JUST STAY RIGHT THERE. So we wait a bit and wait a bit more, but 9 o’clock comes and goes and I say to Elinor: Sod it, let’s go.
So we do and Elinor trots off into the bright lights and I get a phone call LITERALLY AROUND THE CORNER from the pub that goes like this:
JARED: Where are you? I’m HERE
ME: I’m going home!
JARED: You can’t, I’m here! I’m RIGHT OUTSIDE THE PUB
By this point I’ve walked back towards the pub.
ME: You’re not.
JARED: I bloody am! I’m locking up my bike. Be with you in ONE SECOND.
So I go back into pub, order us both a pint…. No Jared. Phone rings:
JARED: Where the hell are you?
ME: I’m in the pub.
JARED: I’m walking up and down the pub, you’re not here.
I look around – place is deserted but for a few drunken teens in the corner showing each other nudey pics on mobiles and guffawing. Has Jared slipped into a parallel dimension. OH MY GOD.
JARED: Hang on… I don’t think I’m in the right Coach and Horses.
ME: There is only one Coach and Horses in Soho!
JARED: Then where the hell am I?
ME: I don’t know.
JARED: I”ll be with you in TEN MINUTES.
So anyway, Jared finally joins me and even though I tell him I can only stay for ONE drink, it becomes about 3 and then I have about ten minutes to catch the eleven o’ clock train back to Bournemouth… I end up running barefoot through Waterloo up the escalators and through the main bit to platform 8 (where the Bournemouth train always seems to be). Whistle is going, a guard’s waving his arm and I’m yelling: “STOP THE TRAIN!” like in the movies… Somewhere in my exhausted (ahem) brain I think I can make it. Guard yells: “Don’t you dare!” and peels after me, grabs me round the waist and hoists me away from the closed doors. He then TELLS ME OFF as the train continues to chug away. “Get the midnight train you daft mare,” is his last advice to me, but all I can think of is The Midnight Meat Train. Yikes! (Yes, I watch too many movies, I KNOW). So to prepare for bloody death I decide to go to Burger King and meet a charming solicitor who gives me his number which I think is marvellous (you never know when you need legal advice or someone to represent you over *misunderstandings*) until I remember I’m a bit married and he probably gave it to me with less legal and more saucy intentions. Whoops.
So I FINALLY get on the midnight meat train but Vinnie Jones is nowhere in sight so I figure I’m safe… I blink and fall asleep for about forty minutes and wake up on THE GHOST TRAIN – and worst of all, it’s in Basingstoke. Everyone literally vanishes… Perhaps Vinnie is on board after all? But then a guy in a neon jacket appears and tells me to get off, there’s a replacement bus service between there and Winchester. So I trail off and he escorts me to the bus and yells to his mate driving: “STRAGGLER FOR YOU!” in front of EVERYONE. Le Sigh. The bus is of course freezing and I discover my iPod has a suspicious amount of Ibiza Anthems on it considering I only got it last week and can’t stand them – the boy spawn has undoubtedly been tinkering with it. So during the freezing bus journey I decided to see if Encore En Fois keeps you more warm than the likes of David Bowie. Result: no effing difference.
Back on the train at Winchester a mad female guard who’s obviously getting home for the night keeps trying to talk to me, but by this point my brain is melted and I HAVE NO IDEA what she’s on about. I just nod and smile and she keeps talking. Is this what it’s like to be me?? I wonder, Ever talking and people just nodding?? She gets off at Christchurch and I’m left alone for a blissful ten minutes until some mad man storms through with an wide-eyed eight year old boy chanting, presumably something to do with some kind of sport. Said kid offers me a crisp, I say no thanks, as I’m on a diet: “Why bother?” he says, “If you’re fat, you’re fat.” Marvellous. I finally get home just before 3am to find I have no keys and my Husband having an apoplexy – I said I’d be back at half eleven! My phone ran out of charge, I reply weakly – like a chastised teen. Double whoops. It’s all material though, right?
So that was my tuesday. How was yours?
Here's an idea for your husband, next time this happens – get to your front door, and when he answers is, shout at him before he has a chance to say a word – "Why could you not just pay the SODDING RANSOM, eh?"
(Yes I know. It's an old Richard Harris story, and he was off on a three-day bender. But still, I think it has mileage.)
Fantastic story! Is there not the glimmerings of a script in here?
ME: There is only one Coach and Horses in Soho!
Is that Coach & Horses in Great Marlborough Street, the next block on from Frame Store, or The Coach & Horses in Greek Street behind the Palace theatre?
GD – I don't bloody know do I, I was in the RIGHT ONE, that's all that's important!!!
Loz – defo has mileage and I think I'm going to write a script set entirely on trains and in stations, christ knows I have enough stories about 'em now. Just think if I drove a car… How dull.
I had this exact same 'wrong Coach & Horses' mishap, a month ago. Not with Jared, obviously.
The Greek Street C&H is far superior, although the Great Marlborough one does have a nice upstairs lounge, with sofa action.
Why "obviously"? Jared gets everywhere – LIKE GERMS. Except when he's supposed to be there of course…
Weirdly however, the barmaid confirmed there was only one Coach and Horses in Soho when I was on the phone to Jared. She must be hunted down forthwith.
Is this photo by O. Winston Link?
Sigh. You get all the fun.
Sounds like a classic Ealing comedy script there, Lucy…
Andy – no idea, I just thought it looked cool.
David – you need to get out more… No really!!!
Sheiky – thing is I don't *mean* to be funny, so that makes it a tragedy, no? ; )
I feel that I was deliberately delayed by the unavoidable. The circumstances unforeseeable and all that commotion.
For the record, there is only one Coach & Horses pub in Soho, at least only one that matters, or at least used to matter before Norman left and they removed the dwarf’s urinal, added a coat of gastro paint, got rid of the all-day £1 sandwiches and replaced them with sautéed free-range penguin’s livers and minted petit portions; and although the beer flies and bar flies have all followed in Norman’s wake and it’s not the boozer it once was, it’s still the only Coach & Horses in Soho.
The world’s most famous artists (piss artists, mainly, but artists nonetheless) have vomited and shit themselves in this place; we’re talking real history here, and one of its more infamous regulars was the inspiration for Keith Waterhouse’s ‘Jeffrey Bernard Is Unwell’ a play brought spectacularly to life by Peter O’Toole, himself no a stranger to Norman’s mad rants and shit-stained pants. The play is set in the only Coach & Horses in Soho.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I put it to you that when a writer tells another writer they are meeting a writer in the Coach & Horses in Soho it can mean only one place.
Gastro la vista, baby.
So you're the one who trips up over her heels in Oxford Street. I've seen you many times!