I need to tell you what happened the night before New Year's Eve!
Let me finish describing my very long-winded train odyssey.
BECAUSE I KNOW YOU ARE FASCINATED.
So I went to Manchester and spent the evening with my mum and her boyfriend Phil...
Then I went to Liverpool to see Nana...
Then I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly and got on another train to mum's new house...
Then that evening I went back into town and met up with my friend Jen (not Jen I live with, Jen who moved to Australia for a few years and is now back). My crapberry rolled over and died for No Reason, so I had to rely on sticking to plans, old school style. I almost missed Jen, as were waiting at different entrances. It was like a scene from a bad sitcom. Luckily she was with her fiancé (whit woo) and she sent him round to see if I was waiting at the other door.
We went to the Christmas market, the first time I've been in years to the Manchester one, then I had to scoot off an wait in a bar for Amy. Without phones there can be no plan alterations! Kayt met us and I ended up staying at Kayt's, rather than going all the way back to mum's in Another Northern Mill Town.
The next day I went into town to do Christmas shopping, then I went back to mum's... and the next day I went into town AGAIN to meet up with my brother... and then we met Phil off the train - he came to spend Christmas with my family.
We went to the Lakes on Christmas Eve, the usual chaos ensued, and it was over before I could blink. I got to catch up with my cousins and spend time with baby Aurora Rose, who is so lovely and cute. We left the Lakes just as the rivers started rising again, not so much spilling on to the roads, as slowly filling them up.
My family's homes were all fine in the floods, but they were cut off from work for a bit when it first happened. It is so scary, this crazy weather. It's snowing there at the moment, which has got to be better than heavy rains and flooding, but I don't know what will happen when the snow melts.
The day after Boxing Day, Phil and I got the train back down south so we could be at his family's big get-together in Kent. (I've never really been to Kent. The countryside is very flat, and the houses are much bigger than in the Northern countryside. It's so flat that you can see for miles and miles, even though there is nothing to see.)
THAT IS A LOT OF TRAIN RIDING, I CAN TELL YOU.
One more leg of the journey and I will be quiet.
Sooo I went back to work for a couple of days, then we were off again, the day before NYE. We were going to his friends' new house in Brighton for NYE, but Phil's mum and dad who also live in Brighton were away on holiday, so we thought we would make a long weekend and travelled down the day before.
The trains were fucked because of work on the rails, so it was easier and actually quicker to get the coach. We arrived in Brighton about half ten at night, and slowly walked up to Phil's mum and dad's house in the suburbs. We stopped at a pub on the way home and had a couple of drinks, blissfully ignorant of the nightmare about to ensue.
It's funny, because as we walked in the cold drizzle, leaving the city centre behind us and entering Suburbia, I looked into dark gardens and tried to imagine sleeping in them. I had a drunken daydream about bedding down between someone's car and hedge, hidden from view. I imagined being cold and a bit scared, and trying to get warm in my coat.
It's almost like I cursed us with my strange imaginings.
When we finally got to the house, Phil put his key in the lock and it didn't work. It was like a nightmare. I kept telling him to try it again, but he slowly realised what had happened - his mum had her bag stolen on holiday in the summer, with her keys in, and he guessed they had changed the locks upon returning to England.
It has been so long since he'd been to their house on his own, that he hadn't even thought to check if he had the most recent key.
I didn't know what we were going to do. Phil tried to call the friends we were supposed to be seeing on NYE, but they didn't answer. (We found out the next day they'd gone to bed early and their phones were on silent. They were both off work, so didn't need to set an alarm or check their phones.)
Phil mentioned that the 80 year old neighbour had a spare key, but we knew we couldn't knock on her door in the middle of the night and freak her out. But if she had the spare key...
I envisioned a night crouching behind his parent's car, or a long walk back to the coach station.
Phil decided to telephone the neighbour, she didn't answer the phone. He sent her a text message as well, just in case she was at home and awake. Amazingly, she saw the message and called Phil. He ran across the road to get the key and returned triumphant.
We were going to get inside and have a nice cup of tea! Maybe even a biscuit! We were going to get into or pyjamas and be warm and cosy!
We weren't, because the neighbour's key didn't work either.
She was sure it was the latest key, but it didn't fit the lock properly. Awkwardly, she said we could stay at her house if we couldn't get in. And we couldn't get in, so we had to stay at her house.
I felt so bad. I thought about what my gran would do if someone interrupted her routine in the middle of the night. She said we could sleep in separate rooms, or we could both sleep in the same room, in twin beds, and she 'wouldn't tell Phil's mother'.
We opted for the twin beds, spaced half a metre apart, with a photo of the neighbour's priest brother next to my bed. I thought it was the Pope, although I do remember thinking it was younger than I remembered, as I fell asleep.
The next day we woke up at 7am, as the neighbour had told us to 'be out of her hair' in the morning. But I was so tired, and we had no clear plan.
We eventually got up at about 9am, and luckily the neighbour was just getting up too and was very cheerful. She had a job for Phil to do, moving some logs from the bottom of her garden, and she was glad to take the milk we'd bought on the way home the night before, so I felt like we at least were a bit helpful and not completely disruptive. :S
As soon as they woke up, Phil's friends checked their phones and said they would come and get us in the car. We ended up having a really really nice NYE with lots of amazing food, but GOODNESS ME I am going to be extremely paranoid about keys in the future.
When I told my friends this story they questioned how much Phil's parents like us, but I assure you they were not trying to lock us out on purpose!
I can't find Martha Tilston's Brighton Song, which would be the perfect accompaniment to this post, but Space is a nice falling-asleep-song too. Makes me thinks about the quiet countryside, just seen in the moonlight, on the other side of a train window.