Bank Holiday

Bank Holiday. Or, in the always insightful words of The Mighty Boosh, Recovery Monday. It was a good day, a relaxing end to an eventful – well, compared to my usual weekends, at least – three days off.

I kicked off the weekend on Friday night with a spot of fare evasion at Balham train station. At least, that’s what I was told it was. In reality, I was paid until Clapham Junction but not into Zone 3. The difference was £2.10.

How did Southern Trains decide to deal with the situation? I hadn’t known – checked, basically – that Balham was outside of Zone 2, and the outstanding amount was nominal, so you’d think they’d have let me pay the difference and leave, right? Wrong. With Southern Trains you get to pay the £2.10, plus a £20 fine, and have an embarrassingly protracted argument with an infuriating little man brandishing a clipboard and displaying the perfectly honed ability to crawl right under your skin during an exchange in which, surely, you should really want to placate the ‘offending’ passenger as much as possible.

So was it fare evasion or fair evasion? Doesn’t matter, as Southern Trains’ staff have clearly been trained to operate with all the logic, empathy and humanity of one of those annoying self-service tills in Tesco that you want to punch in the screen for repeatedly telling you to place items in the ‘bagging area’ when your items are already in the fucking bagging area.

The rest of Friday night comprised curry, beer and every single episode of Big Train until the early hours. Which, it turns out, isn’t as good an idea as it sounds.

With Saturday written off as a day of eating pizza in bed and watching Todd Phillips movies, the weekend was really all about Sunday and watching Orbital on Clapham Common. On Saturday morning I didn’t have a ticket. By Sunday lunchtime I had one lined up but, being the tight-arse that I am, I couldn’t resist seeing if I could get one cheaper.

I couldn’t, it turns out. It also turns out it’s easier than you’d think to get into a public slanging match outside a tube station with two ticket touts.

Me: “How much are you selling for? I can get a ticket for face value. Can you do one cheaper?”

Tout 1: “Can do ya one for £60.”

Me: “Oh. Well I’ve got one for £35, face value, but I…”

Tout 1: “Well what chew fackin’ talking ‘a me for?”

Tout 2: “Yeah, what the fuck chew talking ‘a us for?

Me: “Well I thought you might be able to do one cheaper?”

Tout 1: “See ya mate.”

Tout 2: “Yeah, see ya later mate.”

I didn’t see them later. Also, it’s interesting how some people will verbally abuse someone in the street, look at them like they hate them to their very core to the point where they might want to spend a fair bit of time stabbing them up, but will still refer to them as “mate”.

Later, while sitting on the grass outside the festival waiting for my friends, I spent a while pondering the existence of ticket touts. They’re a strange bunch.
Aside from chattering about “buying any spares” outside popular music events, they don’t really seem to exist in real life. You don’t see them at the cinema, queuing in the bank or buying coriander in Waitrose (hmmm, okay, maybe not the best example).

They look like actors with bit-parts as market vendors on the set of Eastenders. Decked-out in that time-honoured sartorial match-up of ill-fitting stonewash jeans, bashed-up Reebok Classics and two-sizes-too-big polo shirts, they all dress the same. They all walk with a slight stumbling limp, too, as if they once lost a toe in an underground run-in with Barry The Baptist.

Sitting on the grass outside the concert, becoming ever-more aware of their cacophony of Cockney wittering, I felt like I’d been dropped into that brilliant Big Train parody of Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Anyway, Orbital were, as expected, brilliant, and Sunday wound up with me and my friends narrowly avoiding ejection from a posh(ish) bar after some members of the group developed a taste for alcohol-fuelled indoor gymnastics, and a final memory of dragging my housemate part of the way home with a rope tied around her ankle. And Monday: a lazy late-afternoon lunch in the beaming sunshine, which culminated in a characteristically cerebral discussion on whether a duck the size of a horse or 100 duck-sized horses would win in a fight.

No consensus reached or conclusion drawn on that one, so that’s still out there for debate.

There it is, Bank Holidays: days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers, as Blur once said. No more till next year, though.


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