Over the past couple of weeks, I have had time to think back and reflect over events from years gone by. Most of the time they are events that leave me with a smile on my face as my fond memories far outweigh the bad ones. While I share some of these memories, I would like to emphasise that I am in no way checking out, I am determined to get my three score years and ten and a good bit more! The result being that you will have to be prepared for many recollections of happenings from the past. The memory does, however, work in a not completely reliable manner so some of the memories may be a little bit muddled, some may be a combination of several events and some may be completely fabricated. I leave it to you to judge the value of each and claim artistic license as my defence.
Some years ago, not too long after my initial move to Sweden, I took a short break in the UK to visit family and friends. Being a poor (under-financed rather than sub-standard or the subject of pity) post-graduate student, I travelled by train purchasing an Inter-rail card for a fairly small amount of money. I had taken the 13:08 train from Stockholm to the Hook of Holland and from there the ferry to Harwich for further travel in England.
I had gained experience from previous trips that after 24 hours on the train a shower was definitely in order. I had also learned that the crew were generally all involved in preparing for cast off prior to departure, so I snook down into the crew quarters for a quick shower and change of clothes before leaving the dock.
On this particular occasion the weather forecast was for strong winds reaching gale force. I therefore ensured that I got to the restaurant as quickly as possible. On arriving and taking my seat in an almost empty restaurant the waiter immediately informed me that there would be no soup served during the voyage. I ordered a pint of bitter and a simple pie and two veg meal. The beer arrived in two half filled pint glasses and the journey began. The boat lurched from side to side while I with good appetite ate my dinner. When I was done I asked for the bill, but was told that it was on the house as they were impressed that I ate at all considering the weather.
On reaching Harwich I proceeded to Reading vis London. I must admit that I was a bit sea-sick once back on terra firma. In Reading I was met at the station by my old college friends, Debbie and Tim, in their Triumph Spitfire – a lovely car, which they let me drive a little bit the next day. Debbie and Tim have owned a number of properties over the years. One thing that they have all had in common is that they, in one way or another, quickly resemble a building site. The house that they lived in at this particular time was their prototype. When we arrived at the house, I felt that the grime of travel was still present so I retired to the shower. Just as I was about to step into the shower a hand appeared through a hole in the bathroom floor presenting me with a very welcome beer. That’s what I call service! In return, I could use some of the newly redundant piping in a novel and entertaining manner.