diamond geezer

 Monday, January 16, 2023

The day before you came (Friday 16th January 1998)

I must have left my house at eight, because I always do
Actually I used to leave my house at seven and walk down to the bus station to catch the quarter past. I was always one of the first into work because that meant I could get more done before everyone else turned up.

My train, I'm certain, left the station just when it was due
But on this particular Friday, atypically, yes I caught the train. For highly unlikely reasons (which would prove life-changing) I'd been allowed a day off to attend an event in London, and even better work was paying the £29 for a peak ticket. My train, I'm certain, left Bedford station at half past eight.

I must have read the morning paper going into town
Not on this particular Friday. Normally I bought one from Forbuoys in Greenhill Street, assuming they'd raised the shutters early enough, and would then flick through the first few pages on the bus. But today my routine was very different, plus I had company on the train and it wouldn't have been polite to read throughout the journey.

And having gotten through the editorial, no doubt I must have frowned
Oh come on, Brits don't buy newspapers whose editorials they disagree with. I don't know what the editorial was that day, but I do know I read it because I picked up a free copy of my newspaper at the event later in the day.

I must have made my desk around a quarter after nine
If I'd made my desk at 9.15 on a normal day then I'd have been told off for being very late. On this particular day we made it to the event just after ten and collected our badges from reception. I confess I'd showed off along the way by knowing how the tube worked better than my companion.

With letters to be read, and heaps of papers waiting to be signed
That wasn't how my job worked... although ABBA were right, everything was paper-based in those pre-email days. My unusual Friday involved acquiring paper rather than processing it, but I did manage to enter a bit of data into a spreadsheet because 1998 wasn't entirely behind the times.

I must have gone to lunch at half past twelve or so
Quarter past twelve actually. We looked at the venue's price list and were so aghast we made do with just soup, not that we were ever able to work out what kind of soup it was.

The usual place, the usual bunch
The usual place for guzzling down my packed lunch was separate from my colleagues. They'd perfected the art of taking a full hour off but I didn't feel the need to join them chatting and gossiping, I was more into using every minute to make sure my afternoon went smoothly.

And still on top of this I'm pretty sure it must have rained
Ah I know this one, no it didn't. Inexplicably someone has uploaded the BBC weather forecast for Friday 16th January 1998 to YouTube, and I've watched it and the skies were mainly clear that day with no showers due until Sunday.

The day before you came
Technically it was the other way round, you stayed put and I came over to yours. But yes this was indeed Day Minus One, and I had no idea of the pivotal tipping point due to occur in approximately 24 hours time.

I must have lit my seventh cigarette at half past two
Heavens no, I've never puffed on a cigarette in my life. I have other unhealthy habits but not that one. I was never tempted not least because I had no desire to smell constantly like an ashtray. If you'd been a smoker I don't think our upcoming rendezvous would have got much further.

And at the time I never even noticed I was blue
I wasn't blue but I was in a rut and I genuinely hadn't noticed. I had very few friends, mainly because most people at work were much older than me, so I plodded on alone because that's how I assumed my life was going to be. A big social jolt lay immediately ahead.

I must have kept on dragging through the business of the day
On a normal day business might have dragged but this was anything but, I was on the loose in central London with a budget and making executive decisions all by myself. On a typical day work was all about clockwatching but this felt like unbridled freedom.

Without really knowing anything, I hid a part of me away
Given the choice what I'd rather have done was stay up in London for the evening and made the most of its multiple opportunities, but I couldn't because my work colleague was heading home to his family and I was expected to tag along. That said if I hadn't gone straight home I'd never have made the phone call that led to tomorrow, so thanks colleague.

At five I must have left, there's no exception to the rule
No I was usually out of work well before then, mainly because if I left it until after five there wasn't a bus home for ages. On this particular day we escaped the event before half past three, mainly because we could but also because it was a long trip home.

A matter of routine, I've done it ever since I finished school
I don't think I've ever worked in a job with a fixed hometime, not since I was at school. Admittedly in my last job I did eventually get to the stage where my terms and conditions said I could leave at four so I invariably did, and a lot of people who didn't realise I'd been in since eight must've thought I was a total slacker.

The train back home again
That'd be the four fifteen from St Pancras. It'd be another three years before my commute home again involved a train, and this shift would ultimately be because of the meet-up I was about to have tomorrow.

Undoubtedly I must have read the evening paper then
No, I read the morning paper instead because I now had a copy, and because my colleague had thankfully succumbed to tiredness and fallen asleep. Also the Evening Standard wasn't free back in 1998 and I had no intention of buying an unnecessary copy.

Oh yes, I'm sure my life was well within it's usual frame the day before you came
I really can't emphasise this enough, my 'Day Before You Came' was about as atypical as it ever got.

I must have opened my front door at eight o'clock or so
I have never understood why Agnetha took an hour and a quarter to travel to work but three hours to get home. Today I managed to open my front door about five o'clock, which wasn't bad after whizzing back from London but later than I normally allowed on a Friday.

And stopped along the way to buy some Chinese food to go
Fish and chips would have been more likely, given it was Friday. On the Wednesday I had in fact stopped off for a double cheeseburger because Burger King had them on special offer. But what I actually had this particular Friday evening was a tasty pork chop, as whipped out from my fridge and lightly grilled.

I'm sure I had my dinner watching something on TV
That'd be TFI Friday, with this particular episode featuring special guests All Saints, Barbara Windsor and Neil Tennant. Or if I was eating slowly it might have been Top of the Pops, with Jayne Middlemiss introducing the Lighthouse Family, All Saints and Robbie Williams doing Angels.

There's not, I think, a single episode of Dallas that I didn't see
It was Brookside I never ever missed, although tonight's episode was interrupted by my brother ringing up about our upcoming trip to Eurodisney. We'd left it so late to book that the only alternative was first class on Eurostar and a plusher hotel than we'd have liked, but needs must.

I must have gone to bed around a quarter after ten
If I'm ever in bed that early I am seriously unwell. On this particular evening I was online at ten chatting to my potential date for Saturday, trying hard to explain that I really was interested even though I was 80 miles away. In due course I was going to end up being the one that did almost all the travelling, but I didn't know that yet.

I need a lot of sleep, and so I like to be in bed by then
I never have needed a lot of sleep, I'm much more a half twelve kind of person. As things turned out I wasn't going to get a lot of sleep the following night...

I must have read a while
No, I wrote my diary instead. I always do, it helps to summarise a day, and how brilliant that I did because I now have a perfect snapshot of how mundane my life was the day before everything changed. It's also invaluable to have a record of the two years that followed, mainly to remind myself that it was rarely perfect and all the warning signs were there.

The latest one by Marilyn French or something in that style
I've never read a Marilyn French. I've also never read a Barbara Cartland, as per the Blancmange cover version. Both could probably have offered wise advice about rogues and relationships, but instead I was about to discover all this first hand.

It's funny, but I had no sense of living without aim
And there in a nutshell is the brilliance of an ABBA lyric. Back in 1998 I was totally 'living without aim', merely getting on with things with no thought of where I was heading. I could easily have carried on in a risk-free furrow - adrift, ambitionless and socially inert.

The day before you came
Instead I gave change a try and bingo, by the end of the year I had new friends in a completely different part of the country, a new job in the bag, a new car on the order books and big plans to move house. I would never have believed any of this the day before you came.

And turning out the light I must have yawned and cuddled up for yet another night
No no no, there was no cuddling, I had nobody to cuddle, it'd been almost a year since I'd last managed an overnight cuddle. There's a lot to be said for having a double bed to yourself but also, as I was about to find out, also a lot to be said for sharing one on a regular basis.

And rattling on the roof I must have heard the sound of rain
No Björn, we've already established that this metaphor for misery never happened. Plus I wasn't miserable, merely underachieving at everything other than work.

The day before you came
Given everything that was about to happen, I really wish you hadn't. And given everything that followed on afterwards, I'm bloody glad you did.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
our bow
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv