Friends? Who needs them!

So, Jen’s here. I guess maybe there should be an exclamation point after that sentence, seeing as she’s one of my closest friends and has traveled all the way from Chicago for our annual summer festival of looking at cute boys and getting drunk on cider at my local, but it doesn’t seem to warrant one. I love her to death, we have a real laugh, but it’s 1.27AM and I can’t be bothered to be excited about her arrival right now. Especially considering the trouble I had collecting her from the station today…

It’s no big thing, really. I wanted to go down to London to personally escort her back up here, but then I had too much crap to do – some of which still is not done, but luckily isn’t on deadline – and decided that rather than spending £30 on a train ticket, I’d just put my trust in Jen’s ability to get herself from A to B on her own. That, I suppose, was my first mistake.

Warning number two: I know I talked about trains in last week’s column, and I’m about to talk about them again, but this time I’m not lodging complaints. Well, not technically.

When Jen phoned the other night, I explained to her, in great detail, exactly how to get from London Bridge (where she was staying) to Birmingham New Street station. All she needed to do was get the Tube to Euston station in London, buy a ticket for a Virgin train (not Silverlink, because there’s nowhere to stash luggage on Silverlink trains) to Birmingham, get on said train and wait on the platform at New Street for me to come collect her. Most importantly, she was to phone me before getting on any train, so that I could be at the station when she arrived in Birmingham; it takes at least an hour to get from my house to the city centre, and that’s if I’m ready to bolt out the door at a moments notice – ie not often.

Anyway, I waited and waited for her to phone me today, to tell me she was in London and getting ready to hop on a train up here. Five o’clock came and went, and no phone calls. Finally, at almost 6PM, my mobile rang. It was an 0121 number, and I thought to myself, ‘If that’s Jen, and she’s already in Birmingham, I just might throw something.’ Well, it was Jen, and she was in Birmingham. ‘Are you pissed at me?’ she asked meekly. ‘Not yet,’ I answered, waiting for some explanation as to why she – almost certainly – purposely fouled up this mind-numbingly simple task. All she could tell me was that she’d been up all night, didn’t get in till 6AM, woke up at 8AM, and a lot of other irrelevant information. She also bought a Silverlink ticket instead of a Virgin one – after I explicitly and emphatically told her to make sure NOT to buy a Silverlink ticket – and the only reason she wasn’t kicked off the train at the first stop was because the guard felt sorry for her. Instead, he helped her with her bags and told her not to worry about it. Her excuse for not calling me was because she didn’t want to miss her train. So maybe she didn’t realise there are trains from London to Birmingham running several times an hour, but whatever. I hate feeling rushed, I hate feeling like someone is waiting for me, and I hate it when I know someone is going to mess up and they prove me right.

To cut a long(er) story short(er), I was at the station in just under two hours, and the good-smelling, cute-looking boys I encountered from the moment I exited my front door kept me from being too grouchy when I finally found Jen at the station (not, as it happens, in the espresso bar where I told her to meet me, shockingly enough). When we got home, she did her usual routine of falling all over my husband, Ian, whom she adores, crying out, ‘EEEEEEEEEEE-IN!’ in a high-pitched squeal and covering him in kisses. He did his usual routine of squirming away from her and giving me his all-too-familiar, ‘The shit I put up with for you’ look. It was really quite sweet.

Getting back into bitch mode for a moment, you know what else I hate? I hate when someone bugs you to watch a certain DVD – Three Kings, let’s say –with them, and then they open up a magazine with the bloody Corrs on the cover (I bought it, but only for the free gift) and proceed to ignore the film. And when I tell them how rude they’re being, and they tell me to ‘relax’ – I hate that, too.

It’s going to be a long three weeks. But, like I said, we have a laugh.