Lucky to be home for Christmas


The real “last chopper out of Saigon”, as photographed by Hubert van Es

I know I’ve complained in the past about being stuck in Worthing, but with all that happened on Tuesday, I’m relieved that I made it home for Christmas at all!  I could, after all, still be stuck in London even today (the 27th), cut off from my folks and stuck in a house with a certain unwitting bully

It’s worth highlighting just how amazing it was that my mother plucked me out of Greater London Saigon on Tuesday afternoon.  Not only did she somehow find her way to Woking despite a miniature lake blocking her direct route there, but her phone’s Navigation app directed us home through mysterious country roads in something that may or may not have come from Stephen King’s short story, “Mrs. Todd’s Shortcut”, as I’m sure we passed out of this world at least once.  I’d been having flashes of deja vu all day, and more so on this leg of the journey, which made me wonder whether this was my time to die: perhaps that’s why some beneficient higher power sent a slow-moving tractor to block our route and reduce us to a crawl through roads that, while open, were still partially flooded or blocked by fallen branches.  If old Farmer Giles hadn’t kept us at a safe speed, who knows what we might have blundered into?

And, in any case, rejoining the motorway well south of Dorking may have spared us something terrible, as that whole region of the Home Counties seems to have had the worst of the flooding (particularly Leatherhead).  In all honesty, it felt as though the entire Greater London area was collapsing into a fiery pit behind us as we drove away, the demons of Hell flapping at our backs, reaching for our very souls… well, not quite, but I’m still glad we made it home before nightfall, and my mother deserves a serious commendation for her driving ability.

(But I suspect all the OBEs etc. will continue to go to political cronies and business shysters as usual, rather than the genuinely-deserving heroes…)

Not only did my mother pull my fat out of the fryer on Tuesday, she also helped me out on Thursday, above and beyond the call of duty.  She’d already taken me into town once to buy my “official” Christmas present, a Samsung Galaxy Note II (courtesy of Computer Exchange); we were lucky that they found one in the back that was “as new”, but no more expensive than the ones on the shelf, and with all accoutrements in the box.  It’s bigger than my mother’s S3, and way bigger than the titchy HTC Desire Z I’ve been labouring with since March 2012 (back when it seemed good).

However, it wasn’t until I got home that I realised my normal-sized 3 SIM wouldn’t fit inside my new “phablet”, due to it needing a micro-SIM, and I didn’t want to risk cutting it myself!  Mumsy called me when I was at the bus stop to announce that there were no buses on the 26th (thanks Stagecoach, you remind me why I hated travelling when I used to live in Worthing), and even though she’s had a nasty cold for the past few days, she drove me back again to visit the 3 shop in Worthing, without complaining (though to thank her on this occasion, I stopped playing Gwar and instead put on Happy Hour by King Missile, an album I’ve been lending her for some months now).

I’m also lucky to have my grandmother here to provide three square meals a day for me (just in case she’s reading), and also to ensure a well-heated house thanks to her getting the Winter Heating Allowance.  And “lucky” is the right word, because she had a health scare earlier in the year — but for now, at least, she’s still with us, and sees another Christmas in this world.

It’s good to be home, even if I can’t do very much here beyond playing old PC games (I’m replaying Thief in anticipation of the new game next year), tinkering with my new phone, watching Freeview, taking long, hot baths, trying to get a USB-powered record player (one of the things I had to lug around on Tuesday) to send sound through my computer, and (rarely) studying IT (no exercising, thanks to my mother’s untimely cold).  Don’t worry, I bought presents for my folks, including some expensive perfume for my grandmother and some books on Japan for my mother, but they would probably say the best present was for me to make it down safely.  If I’d known, I wouldn’t have got them anything else… just kidding, Mumsy!

The weather hasn’t let up much, however: last night saw storms almost as bad as those of Sunday and Monday nights, which stopped me getting much sleep.  Despite this, Worthing, including our neighbouring village of Ferring, seems to have escaped the brunt of our Christmas “extreme weather” (I doubt a survivor of New Orleans would think we have much to complain about!), and for that I am grateful.  My mother wonders whether the spirits of our departed loved ones have been watching over and protecting us these past few days; certainly, we’ve been luckier than I would have expected considering the circumstances, and luckier than a lot of people in south-east England!

I might have been denied the chance to experience all this if I hadn’t been able to make it down — my mother was at one point considering telling me to turn around and go back up to Finchley!  And, assuming I could have made it that far, since Southern Railways were closed on Christmas Day as planned, and operating a skeleton service thereafter, I’d be stuck there perhaps even now — in a house with insufficient heating, no food (I made sure to use everything up before I went) and a jerk of a housemate sneering at me.  But also my excellent PC and plenty of games to play, admittedly, though nothing to attend as all my groups were shut down for Christmas as well.

Now I just have to worry about getting back up to London again, since I promised I’d return to work on the 2nd, and it’s just possible I’ll rouse myself sufficiently to go up for some New Year party or other on the big night, rather than wait for the 1st to travel.  As I said, Southern have decided to make it as difficult and tedious as possible to travel up from the Worthing area, including changing at Horsham, and one more big storm will probably see even that route closed, but what choice do I have?  At least I’ll be able to watch movies, read books, update Facebook or play Angry Birds on my new big-screen phone!

Plus, it’s not for a few days yet, so I’ve got time to relax a bit longer, and watch the hypnotic rain outside my window… oh, am I meant to be learning Windows 7 for a test?


2 thoughts on “Lucky to be home for Christmas

  1. Pingback: On into 2014 | Dave-ros Lives!

  2. Pingback: Emerging from the darkness | Dave-ros Lives!

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