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Englandaganza, Stop 3: Woking
Oh, Coventry station has a ladies’ lounge distinct from the passenger lounge.
Not sure if this was progressive or quaint.
Standing room only on the train in from Basingstoke; and none of the reservations made on the training from Coventry corresponded to conditions on the ground — might as well have not booked at all. (As always, watching the English fume in frustration was good entertainment value.) I did elbow my way into a seat after the first stop: I had a work document to get started on, and with only two hours of worktime at Coventry, I had to justify my day’s wages somehow.
It’s a frustrating document too, which is why I’ve kept putting it off: Nigel and I couldn’t agree on a twelve-page document, so we turned it over for arbitration to Judith, who came up with a counter-document at four pages. As with last time, I’ll be coming up with a counter-counter-document, which tries to address the concerns raised; if I know what I’m doing, it’ll end up eight pages long instead of twenty. I managed four pages in the train; the remaining, uh, OK, ten pages? at most? or thereabouts? — will be stitched together in Newcastle when I’m on my own Sunday.
OK, enough work. Rocked up to Woking at 5:40; by the time I worked out that I could not get mobile phone roaming, where the payphone was, and I should really call Peter who was still waiting for me inside the station while I was not, it was more like 5:55.
And given that dinner was involved, I didn’t want to keep Vanessa waiting. We ended up having to take the scenic route to their place on foot; the Basingstoke canal was worth the detour, although I was still too blah to get the camera out to immortalise it. I’m sure Flickr has already taken care of that. And it must have featured in at least one episode of Midsommer Murders.
Had not seen Peter and Vanessa for nine years (we were undergrads together). It was an experience I’ve had with other friends from uni I hadn’t seen in years: there’s flotsam of a few shared memories, the shock of recognition of long stowed-away quirks, but a lot of rescaffolding of familiarity to do. Peter and Vanessa have both been relentlessly sending me Facebookiana, and I have just as relentlessly not been responding; I’m too old to get into Facebook, even though we’re all the same age. Fortunately they’re still on speaking terms with me. Realising that you have to rescaffold (and Facebook pokes don’t count) is a shock; the good news is you’ve still got enough of a shared base that you can at least make a start on it. We kept talking into the wee small hours — which for parents of young children and childless jetsetters alike meant 12:30.
I’d completely forgotten how much I owed Vanessa for background research into Startrek realia when translating Hamlet into Klingon; she didn’t even get an acknowledgement in the preface. Then again, given that the preface was written by the Klingon Imperial Commisariat for Alien Liaison, it would be hard to work an acknowledgement in. As is well known, after all,
MICHAEL DORN: Klingons do NOT use words like please, excuse me, or thhhank you.
Nick does use such words on occasion though, so: Thank you. (Memo to self to dredge up a copy of the second edition to send.)
Peter and Vanessa have three kids, which led to much freaking out on my part; they’re Gen Z or AA or whatever we’ve gotten up to, so they’re all plugged into the Matrix.
- Catherine demonstrated a TARDIS control room she’d assembled, complete with two sound effects per button (OK, some of it was probably pre-fab). When I’d last seen Catherine, she was a newborn; newborns aren’t supposed to be assembling TARDIS’s, dammit! (Of course, with parents like Peter and Vanessa, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had assembled it while she was still a newborn.)
- Naomi, well, Naomi is six months old, so there was a lot of smiling, a little crying, and a soupçon of regurgitation. I didn’t notice her assembling any space vehicles yet; I give it three months.
- Kieran (three and a half) was merrily in his own world, which involved a lot of car brands. Most of them Red fəˈʋɑːʋɨi 355’s. [That’s Fewwahwi to you non-linguisticians.] I sprung “Bayerische Motor-Werken” on him, which startled him speechless for a few seconds. Dunno if it was my German, or the temerity of mentioning BMW anywhere near Fewwahwi.
Btw, the house claims to have a water heating unit. They’re not fooling me: this is sicherly the Charles Babbage difference engine. I’m thinking Catherine put that together too, during her steampunk phase.
Woking is a pleasant enough commuter town, heavily featuring the legacy of H.G. Wells — who spent a lot of time in Woking, identifying things to blow up in War of the Worlds. Woking Main Drag inevitably features a sculpture of a big alien poised to eat you. Good think I was leaving for Oxford when the alien spotted me; you never know what CCTV camera the alien was using for targetting lunch…
Just passed Reading on the training (home to linguisticians since retired or moved to Melbourne, but nice to see the town exists); next stop, Oxonii. IT building, so am not expecting to see many spires. Or bump into Inspector Morse.