Monday, 18 May 2015

Mr Sands

At Starbucks in Manchester Station today, a woman was going down the long queue asking if she could take people's drinks orders. I asked for a cup of tea and she looked at me like I'd gone mad. Three minutes later she returned and asked if she could take my drinks order, so I asked for a cup of tea again, and off she toddled. When I reached the front of the queue, the woman behind the counter asked what drink I wanted, so I said "I'm the one who ordered the tea" and she shrugged, asked what kind of tea I wanted and filled a cup with hot water personally... Begging the simple question... What on earth was the purpose of the woman working the queue? Was she there simply to focus my mind so that by the time I arrived at the counter I wouldn't waste precious time by saying umm...?

It was raining in Manchester this morning as I battled my way from the Travelodge to the nearest tram stop. The only bright side of my journey to the station was passing a tram stop called Pomona, which I thought was a very cool name.

I feel utterly wiped out today, a fact which was not helped in any way by my having arrived an hour early at Manchester Station. It's a ghastly barn of a building at the best of times, but when a series of alarms go off, coupled with an echoey message which says (on loop) "attention please, would Inspector Sands please go to the main office" it becomes like something from a dystopian novella. When I worked in theatre, "Mr Sands" was a code for fire, which staff were expected to use to prevent mass hysteria amongst theatre audiences in the unlikely event that the building went up in flames. "Mr Magpie" was a suspicious package and "Mr Dudley" was a suspicious person. I once had to radio through a Mr Dudley message when I found someone hiding in a darkened toilet after the audience had vacated the building one night. He gave me the shock of my life and was making up all sorts of nonsense about not being able to find the door because it had gone dark whilst he was peeing... I very casually left the loos, stood on the staircase outside, switched on the walkie-talkie and radioed the announcement to the fireman and front of house manager who were the only people left in the building. They were there in seconds and we were able to escort the man off the premises. I have no doubt that if we hadn't found him, we'd have been burgled that night, but there was, of course, no way of proving the fact.

My hunch about the meaning of Mr Sands in the setting of Manchester train station, was bailed out by a follow-up announcement urging "the person who has left an unattended suitcase by the entrance to platform four" to collect said bag as soon as possible!

The girl sitting opposite me on the train back to London spilt her coffee all over the table, but fortunately managed to miss my computer by a millimetre. She didn't apologise, probably cus she was embarrassed. I'll forgive her for that. What was less forgivable was the amount of makeup she systematically managed to trowel onto her face between Rugby and Watford. She was a pretty little thing in her mid-20s, with beautiful eyes, but layer upon layer of brown foundation was being applied, even to her forehead, to the extent that I would have described her makeup as three-dimensional! It was sort of flaking off! She ended up looking like an old leather handbag which had been basted in the oven for too long, or one of the trannies I met on Canal Street yesterday. Her cheeks looked like they'd been boxed by a kangaroo, there was a tide mark under her chin, her lips looked like she'd haemorrhaged and her eyebrows were giant slugs. She would have graded really badly in an edit.

Perhaps it's cus I'm gay that I genuinely don't understand the need for a shedload of make up on a woman. Perhaps it's also because I'm gay that all I can think about is the mess that poor girl is going to leave on her pillows this evening!

I came home and ground to a halt in front of the telly before proudly and obsessively watching the Billy Whistle film on a loop. It's times like this I understand why Björn, after finishing the mix of Dancing Queen in the middle of the night, drove around Stockholm for hours, searching for early-riser friends whom he could play it to!

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