Today ranks amongst the most frustrating days of my life. I woke up, horrifically early, in order to get to King’s Cross. The plan was to catch the 9.45 train to Cambridge to meet my parents who were planning to pick me up and drive me to Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, where my preliminary hearing was due to take place.
I’d just got on the train when I received a phone call from a chirpy lass at the county court, informing me that the defendant was ill and in hospital, and that as a result, the judge had no option but to cancel the hearing. The news hit me like a lightning bolt. “But I’ve already come all the way down from Newcastle” I whimpered, “and I’m already on a train to Cambridge. And this is a preliminary hearing for a small claims court issue, which is very unusual, and if we’re not careful, I’ll have spent as much as I’m owed in the process of claiming it back.” In fairness, there was nothing she could have done or said that would have made the situation any better, but when she told me the next potential date for a replacement hearing was in February, my blood started running cold.
It’s strange, and somehow horrible to admit that in the pit of my stomach, I knew this hearing would be cancelled. I had thought the snow would get in the way, but the choir mistress has been suffering enormously from her health throughout the year, and this has regularly created stumbling blocks, which we’ve needed to try to find ways of working around. I suspect the stress of this whole process is grinding us both into the ground, but I find myself wondering what would happen if she was ill the next time, or the time after that. How long can this process last? How much money will I be forced to spend?
So, I reached Cambridge, and after a terrible argument with my parents, when the stress of the entire situation just poured out into a torrent of tears and swear words and stroppy marches through the misty city streets, we headed back to Thaxted for a pub lunch and an afternoon of telly. Thaxted was coated in a hoar frost and looked hugely romantic in the mist. My parents did their best to change the subject, but my mind kept flicking back to the fundamental problem, namely that no-one is denying that I did the work, delivered it in time, and wrote something which the choir mistress described as “one of the best things you’ve done.” So, why on earth am I forced to go through this absolute mayhem, just to be paid? It’s actually becoming rather surreal.
So tomorrow I’m back to Newcastle, having nothing to show for my 300 mile round trip other than a suitcase filled with newly washed clothes, that I’m worried I won’t have the chance to dry before I have to leave.
December 6th, 1660, was a busy day for Pepys, who spent his time doing business in various Whitehall taverns, where he also bumped into countless friends and associates. Much of his evening was spent in the company of an incredibly witty army man who sang songs and told stories in a Scottish accent. There was obviously something a bit wicked in the air, for Pepys returned home by water, “ it being a most pleasant moonshine night, with a waterman who did tell such a company of bawdy stories, how once he carried a lady from Putney in such a night as this, and she bade him lie down by her, which he did, and did give her content, and a great deal more roguery.” He returned home to discover his servant Jane waiting patiently outside the house. Elizabeth had sent her on some “trivial business” and inadvertently locked her out! Genius!