I finally gave in to the horrendous sight of my hair sticking out in a silver pre-afro mass of rowdy tufts. Jen is still not back in her little salon so I went over the road to Richie’s for a haircut. I think he was glad to see me back.

“Alright me old mate. You come back to me have yer? Three and a two is it? I was just about to close up for the day, things to do, bills to pay, but I’d better do you hadn’t I?”

He didn’t sound bitter at my recent defections at all, which was a relief. So now I am once again beautiful and close cropped.

I wanted to go to Brighton to get some shirts and pay a visit to Waterstones, neither of which activities are possible in my home town. It’s the place where ennui went to die. Possibly for want of a warm plaid shirt and a good read.

I asked the bus driver for a return ticket to Brighton. Because that was my plan. Go to Brighton. Visit a couple of shops. Wander along Western Road to the Lebanese supermarket, grab a handful of exotic food items. Possibly get a snack and a drink. Return home. That was my plan, it was a coherent plan and it would have sufficed. The view along the coast is nice enough, and there was nothing and nowhere else that appealed.

The driver had other plans.

“Are you sure you don’t want a Saver?”

“No. I want a return ticket please. From here to Brighton and back again. Thanks.” My needs today were simple and straightforward.

“But if you get a Saver you can get off the bus wherever you want, get back on another bus on the route and continue your journey. However often you may want to.”

“But I don’t want to. I want to go to Brighton. And then come back here. So you see to me it’s all the same thing.”

“Ah. No it isn’t the same thing you see, because if you want to do that then all you need is a return ticket. Whereas the Saver gives you flexibility. You don’t get that with a simple return. Do you want a Saver?”  In a different universe, or if I had a few variations in my DNA which could have resulted in me being a totally different representative of humanity this would all have been helpful,  possibly interesting or even vaguely relevant. But in the here and now I was heading for a Fegelein moment. Flecks of spittle were forming, I was ready to decompose and howl. I held my composure though.

“No.” I seethed, calmly and collectedly. “I don’t want (fucking) flexibility. I don’t want a (fucking) Saver. I want to go to (fucking) Brighton and then come straight (fucking) back again. On a (fucking) simple five pound return (fucking) ticket. It’s that simple.”

I got off the bus, returned home, changed my clothes and after donning my Czech fur hat and woolly gloves against the chilly North Easterly wind, went for a seven mile bicycle ride and screamed at the sea. The sea shrugged off my frustrations by breaking itself on the pebbled shore.

There were people fishing, people dog walking and simply strolling along the esplanade. All wrapped up for Autumn, all looking calm and happy on this bright but blustery day. Even the ice cream van is still turning up and parking for the day. It’s me, I thought, plunging myself into a gloom of self loathing and doubt. I see the end of times in a helpful and obliging bus driver. The poor sorry fucker only wanted me to buy a Saver ticket.

Then I went and bought a nice looking piece of brisket beef for tomorrow’s dinner. It’s marinading in some homemade beef stock with vegetables and aromatics out in the outhouse fridge right now. I’m going to look on easyjet’s website for a weekend city break for the new year. Prague or Rome. I haven’t been away for seven months and it’s beginning to tell on me.




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