(In the spirit of generosity, I am providing for your reading pleasure the sixth chapter of my UK memoir. You'll have to buy the bleedin' book if you want the previous four. . .)
From the Archives. . .
My first glimpse of the town of
, in the Dartford was of an empty train station in the middle of the night. I was alone on the train, all the passengers having gotten off at earlier stops. As if they knew something I didn’t. There was not a soul in sight, nor a lit window anywhere. There were no taxis in the car park, no city maps posted, no streets signs or visible addresses. There were no coffee shops or petrol stations where one might have asked for directions, or at least bought a map. For all I could tell, the city was dead. county of Kent
“ Oh dear,” I thought. “ This town and I aren’t going to get along at all.”
So how’d I get here you ask? Well, let me take you back a couple months.
In our last episode, our young protagonist (c’est moi) found himself enmeshed in the sea weed of British bureaucracy and dragged under the raging waters of unemployment. At this point, he called up the agency responsible for his employment (though not, apparently, for his lack thereoff), and reminded them in no uncertain terms that he had signed a contract which guaranteed full time work which he expected them to honour and didn’t gave a damn if they hadn’t checked with their government first.
“ Well,” said the nice young lady on the phone, terribly embarrassed. “ Here’s what we can do for you. . .”
And they sent me to
Dartford, in the , where my Canadian police check would be recognized. Let me tell you about county of Kent Dartford:
It’s the sort of place that makes it clear from the outset that it doesn’t want you there. It’s the kind of place where street lamps go out as you approach, where streets aren’t named and buildings aren’t numbered. Where bovine drivers shout at you from their rust bucket cars. Where the streets are paved with cigarette butts, the lawns seeded with Styrofoam containers, and the river is filled with shopping carts. The buses are never on time and the shops are never open. There is not an inch of
Dartford that does not exude ugliness and inefficiency.
If the plaques on the pubs are to be believed,
Dartford has quite a history behind it. Henry V and Bloody Mary were said to pass through (they didn’t stay long), and it is reportedly the birthplace of Mick Jagger (which would explain “Sympathy for the Devil”). The guitarist for Bruce Dickinson’s first band also supposedly came from here, though it has in no way improved the town’s Metal scene. Dartford was the site of a major tax revolt in the twelfth century, and it has been revolting ever since. The leader of the revolt was a disgruntled peasant named Wat Tyler, who, like Henry and Mary, didn’t actually come from Dartford, but was only passing through.
The next night I went back to the Campanile.
Returning to Wycombe that weekend was like dying in
Ypres and waking up in Elysium. Wycombe! Sweet Wycombe! All is forgiven! Is that the attar of roses I smell? Is it just me or does the rain taste like ? Even my neighbour’s bloody wind chimes which kept me up all night when I first moved in sounded like a choir of angels singing the Hallelujah chorus. Wycombe, Shiraz High Wycombe! Let’s never fight again. . .
NEXT EPISODE: Gypsy Roads, or Steve vs Bathroom Sink.