8 February 2012

The snow doesn't give a soft white damn whom it touches - e.e. cummings

On Saturday night, after a long pub evening in Paddington with very old friends, I unwittingly found myself in a perfect set-up for a Radio 4 play.

It was snowing. Flakes falling thick and fast. After a painstakingly slow couple of bus journeys I arrived at Archway at one o'clock in the morning. Forty-five minutes and a 39p packet of Dolly Mixture from a heated newsagents later, the bus that would take me all the way home still hadn't materialised. Fellow bus-shelter dwellers had bought cans of beer to keep them going. The stop had been crowded with chilly travellers when I first got there, but the crowd was rapidly diminishing as people were finding alternative ways back to their beds. By two o'clock we were a foot-stomping cluster, chatting away to stop our teeth chattering. Kevin, an actor, became our ringleader and proposed we tackle the walk home. Most of the stragglers lived in Crouch End, with just me and another girl hailing from Turnpike Lane. We rallied. Kevin bought a bottle of wine and we swigged as we tackled the now deep snow.

There was Louise, an American who worked in interior design and who had been at dinner party. She was wearing high-heeled boots so we had to go slow, staying at her pace and supporting her arm. She offered me her floor to sleep on if I didn't make it all the way back to Turnpike Lane.
There was Russell, also an actor and the more gregarious half of a lovely gay couple. His partner was quiet, cautious, and had luxurious hair.
There was Jess, originally from Hong Kong, who was very smiley and chirpy. The smiles hid her concern that her husband did not know where she was and would be worrying.
There was the nameless girl also headed for Turnpike Lane, who was like Bambi - long-legged and wide-eyed. She was oh so cold, so I lent her my mittens. She kept on walking off into the night, despite not knowing where she was going. Eventually she went so far ahead that we lost her. She had spoken of tea and biscuits and bed. I hope she made it.
And there was Kevin. Kevin of the iPhone map and bottle of wine and beard and booming voice. He had been in commercials in Japan for years and was now back on the London stage. He got me as far as Hornsey Station.

It was like Lord of the Rings. A journey, a fellowship. And London was spotted like a Yayoi Kusama installation. Members of the group dropped off one by one, sometimes exchanging numbers, details entered into phones as first names followed by 'Snow'.

I was the last of the group to get home, living the furthest away. It was three o'clock. I was sober and wholly awake. And soaked through. I hairdryered my body top to toe as my bed-sharer spoke of the night-time video games he'd been playing as he waited for me. I dreamt of the hot baked beans I'd eat on waking.


Ned said...

that's magic!

Chris said...

I'm worried about the mittens....

anna said...

The mittens provide the pathos in this tale...forever lost.