Friday, February 19, 2010

snake-pit, gamble, cakes
















Cables weaving and burrowing beneath the pavement seem  also to be looking for a purpose.

For many years now I have visited the dentist in Sevenoaks. When I had a car, there was no problem. Without a car, the train seemed the best way of getting there. But this meant a walk from Sevenoaks station up the steep hill to the the town, or a taxi. There is a bus service from Tunbridge Wells to Sevenoaks, and  but some years ago it demonstrated its unreliabilty in dramatic fashion. First, the bus did not turn up and when it did an hour later, it broke down, and turned a 50 minute journey into one which lasted three and half hours. No way of travelling if you have an appointment. The bus does, however, stop outside the dentist. Recently we have formed the habit of taking the bus on the way home, a journey made all the more pleasant by the free bus-pass given to oldies like us. Yesterday, I thought that it would be worth the gamble of taking the bus in both directions. The 402 is scheduled to leave Tunbridge Wells railway station on the hour. I think to myself that if it is late, I can still fall back on the train.  The bus is late. If I am to take the train, I must buy a ticket and be on the platform by five past to be sure of not missing it. I do not want to be defeated and at 11.05, I decide to stick it out. By 11.10 I am wondering whether the next train plus a telephone call to warn of lateness will save me the embarrasment of missing my appoinment with Tim, the dentist, who I have know for about 15 years and would not want for the world want to upset. At 11.11, the bus arrives. There are no traffic jams and no breakdowns. The driver puts his foot down to make up time.  He drops me in Sevenoaks High Street at 11.50. There is time to do a couple of chores before the dentist. And when I turn up there I feel like Phileas Fog arriving at the Reform Club in London to collect his £20,000 wager for travelling round the world in 80 days.

Outside a restaurant in the Pantiles is notice "serving coffee and a selection of cakes". It strikes me at first that selection is entirely superflous, but on further thought realize that the word implies care and thoughtfullness. The cakes are not any old cakes.
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5 comments:

CC said...

Enjoyed today's comments especially as
I experienced my own variation of your
"bus" piece going just 8 blocks to a Doctor's appt. through barely cleared snowy /icey
Philadelphia streets.

Lucy said...

I love that bit in 'Around the World'! It was perhaps my favourite book when I was about 12 and I read a lot of Jules Verne after that, including the ones about Quebec. I liked the film with David Niven too.

It's always funny when you arrive somewhere after a minor drama and a series of alarums and excursions like that, but of course the people there have no idea that your journey has been touch-and-go, and treat your arrival as routine, as for them it is...

I think after that and a visit to the dentist you deserve a selection of cakes!

Plutarch said...

What I particularly like about Round the World - the film and the book - is way Phileas turns up at the club as the clock is striking mid day, to claim his wager.

Barrett Bonden said...

Ah but there's an underlying justification to this tale about modern travel. Something rather similar, when you got rid of your car and started to use buses, got you into The Spectator which was a pleasing achievement. I can't remember whether this preceded your blog or not and whether, now, your life is lived in a way that is likely to provide research or whether you have opted for a riskier non-dirigiste approach and to depend on what are clearly much sharpened powers of observation. Do you live to blog or is your blog coincidental to your life? A bit of both I suppose.

What about "various" cakes? Sounds as if they didn't care.

Plutarch said...

You're right, BB, it was that bus trip to Sevenoaks long before I started blogging which gave rise to The Specator article. There was rather more to the unfortunate bus ride than I had room for here. But though infuriating at the time, it proved profitable in the long run run.