Saturday, 26 September 2009

All in one night

I think Moonwalking will be quite a good read. Why do I think that? Not because I'm arrogant. Because I am absolutely terrible at getting from a to b.

Take tonight as an example. Under a setting sun, I set off for a little part of North London called Brent Terrace. I've been there before: not driven there, but been driven there. So I know what it looks like. I set off full of confidence and that excitement that comes with a rare night away from the laptop. And then I hit traffic on the North Circular, London's other orbital. People walked past me; they were idling along and still managed to round every corner before me. People overtook me. And then they sat in front of me.

Soon a perfect first quarter moon had risen and I was still driving. Night-time had arrived. This was bad for two reasons. Firstly - as I've learned from night travel - it's more difficult to locate things at night. Secondly, it's very hard to read a map without light.

I chugged on in my old trusty Fiesta. We'd get there.

Things started to go wrong.

The post code I had for the venue, sadly, wasn't the post code for the venue. It was actually the post code for no venue about ten minutes away. I tried to read my map while driving. Too dark. So I pulled over but hadn't brought the actual address I was trying to find. What do you do when things are going against you? I phoned home - just as a Met police car was pulling out opposite.

In a flash I hurled my phone to my feet and turned the engine off, pulled the keys out, flung them by the phone. Then I imagined what I'd tell the officer if he asked why I was sitting in a car with the sidelights on, with the keys and a mobile phone by my feet. Thankfully Mr Met drove on.

But the sudden loss of engine and hurling of keys upset my trusty Fiesta. She was trusty no more. She wouldn't start. So I was sitting in Cricklewood - which I'd never heard of - in a dead car, over an hour late for a gospel talent show that my good friend had invited me to in order to enjoy and review it.

So I asked two random Asian gentlemen if they'd mind giving me a push start. This took some effort. I clearly looked odd:  long blonde hair, suit jacket, corduroy trousers, shoes, in the back end of a slightly rough-looking North London town that before today I didn't know existed.

"OK, we will do it." They looked to each other for strength and solidarity.

Then they proceeded to push me about two feet before walking off.

Like a weirdo, I began rocking back and forth to gain speed. The man in the Land Rover behind really must've wondered.

But she kangaroo'd into life and I continued up the road to my right, which promised to lead me to my venue. A couple of hours late.

No.

Brent Terrace is in two halves. The half I wanted was beyond an alleyway. But considering I drove past the half I didn't want and ended up in a housing estate with children kicking beer cans at my car, the alleyway wasn't an issue. It was only on my second circuit of this wrong route that I actually spotted the wrong half. First I had to ask a drunk Ukrainian how to get out of the estate and back to somewhere near Brent Terrace.

"You got map I tell you. You not, I don't. You have? Go back. I no need map. Go past shop, no, actually go farrrrr past shop and don't miss road. Be careful with your route!"

I drove up and down, down and up and then realised the drunk Ukrainian was very drunk. There was no shop.

It'd got stupid. I was too late to have the nerve to walk in to the show. I needed to get home. But first the loop of the wrong route again, passing every supermarket Brent Cross can offer. White vans and angry lorries hurried me along. Old grey ladies sneered as they passed.

I never made it to see J-Factor. The M1, M25 and moon brought me home instead.

Navigation is not my strong point. Getting lost - I'm great at that.

Good night.

6 comments:

Sam said...

That sounds like quite an adventure! It also sounds like something I would do; not take the address with me, use the wrong post code (I've done that several times) and panic for no real reason when the police are nearby!

Dmastermind said...

Oh you crazy crazy man. Lol.. Now I understand why you never made it. Shamefully people were still arriving at 10pm.

I must say though your night was very interesting! A good laugh. Watch all you missed @ www.jfactor.org.uk.

~Cheryl said...

Sorry, I had to laugh at your story! I'm used to laughing at myself because I do this sort of thing quite frequently on this side of the ocean!

Rob Self-Pierson said...

Sam - I swear those coppers were going to tick me off until they saw me hurl my phone to the footwell like a lunatic. 'Probably best to leave that one.'

Dmastermind - Next time. I promise. You drive.

Cheryl - Please do laugh; it's the only way I'll learn. I'd like to say it's the first time I've done something like this. Really I've lost count.

ImranA said...

That is an epic story!

SatNav for your birthday perhaps?

Rob Self-Pierson said...

Yes please. Though with the wrong post code and slapdash approach to travel, I fear things could still go embarrassingly wrong.