Journey From PGL to Cambridge (PGL part three)

August, 2011.

The next episode of my life began with me shuffling down the road to greet my taxi away from the world of possessed demented PGL Boreatton Park run by its horde of imps, demons and the demi-god, who sits at the centre of the complex like Shelob in her lair, and filled to the barriers with bleeding faceless children.

My last day faded away at twelve noon. I packed as much as I could into my ageing Vango Planet 70+10, the most ever travelled rucksack in the world, and had a ‘bag for life’ from Waitrose to fit the overflow generated by 3 months within ‘the concentration camp’.

I jumped into the taxi still aware of the final bitter look I was given by the Catering Manager: a man with a flammable cruelty and a vicious Dickensian sinister comportment; he fronted up to me this morning with “have you got a problem with me’ while I moaned, loudly, ‘No, I just don’t like you!’ I fled having said my bye byes to people I still hadn’t thought of until now looking back. 

My burnt left forearm is free to heal, but will forever leave a scar and will, when ever I see it, remind me of those three divisions of the calendar and a season I spent trapped within the smelly and overcrowded cabin no: b/b at PGL. Robbie, of Swiftline Taxis fame, the nice happy agreeable private hire taxi man allowed me to vent my feelings and angst upon the numerous disappointing flaws I’d found their at Boreatton ‘concentration’ Park.

He dropped me a tenner lighter next to Shrewsbury train station to start another mammoth journey for a night of potential carnal pneumatic bliss; or in the very least a possibility of not feeling the way I do today! Too much self pity and coiled up anger I bounded the Arriva Train.

Nothing eventful except for my phone running out of power and the first train to be around 4 carriages short until crowded and overheating, again, until we got into Birmingham New Street. I found some food, drank a vitality smoothie and returned to await my next leg to Cambridge. Finally I stepped off the East Anglia train at Cambridge still overheating, in what had been another cramped and extremely tiring carriage, at 18:30. I collected my thoughts and pushed along to my £5 ‘room for the night’. I threw some cool water over my sweating visage, changed my shirt, brushed my teeth and headed down-town to wonderful romantic Cam for the inevitable rendezvous I’d been looking forwards to so much recently. With these dreams I’d spent all my hard fought finances just to come here, look hopefully and see if past passing acquaintances could spin back into each others arms?

And she arrived a femininely forty five minutes late! I was a refreshing second pint sated by then. She apologised, we talked small talk and then the two of us took to wandering along. From the Anchor on Silver Street we drifted past the first ATM to collect funds, as the rain began its monotonous drumming, and made our way to my favourite pub in Cambridge: the small but perfectly formed St. Radegund’s on King’s Lane. Good night all round, minus me losing my bank card. My acquaintance paid for our first night out; we was merry, embraced, said goodnight. She walked into the Hotel I walked away unbuttoned my flies, urinated by a column on Granta Place and stumbled on my way with behind me the bright lights of the Doubletree Hilton. Tired I was.

Next morning I’m lying in bed at YHA Cambridge gathering my thoughts. I’ve resigned/quit my job due to injury, of body and mind, I find myself one hundred and fifty miles away in damp rainy Cambridge and this drenched Friday morning I have also lost my bank card! With only £3.40 to my name, no way to pay for another nights accommodation(even at £5) with no way of escaping unless my flexible friend turns up soon!

The sweat of the booze is seeping from every pore and I retch into the sink. Looking back on last night I recall walking the lady to her warmly welcoming hotel door and no further. Oh! Mr Sherburn you are a potato-head for your money calamities. I finally get my skates on on this very wet day, promising I’ll be back for six pm to pay for the next night, and then I recollect getting really lost last night! In my drunken state I found myself heading out of Cambridge and passing the Botanical Gardens on Trumpington Road before I realised I was no where near where I was supposed to be. Just at this point I came across a group of teens and begged them to show me the way back where I needed to be! One of the group a gallant and beautiful young lady delivered me to my door; I rode her bike while she jogged along -‘you don’t think I am very stupid helping you like this; I mean you could be a rapist or anything?’. I am thinking she’s right, but I’m wet, lost, drunk and not a rapist. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for not leaving me to wander endlessly these institutional streets feeling like a drown puppy!

Coming back to the present –
I have called the Anchor Inn but there is no answer. It’s too early to expect there to be anyone up there I suppose? Getting exceedingly wet I arrive at my bank to see if in an emergency I could withdraw some of my money without any ID. I have a dwindling supply from leaving the camp (I find that connecting train journeys drain away money while you hang around in stations passing delicate time eating often overpriced stuff you don’t need). The very helpful cashier tells me I can only withdraw £10, but would have to report my card lost before they were willing to help me further. I’m in Cambridge with £10 plus a little loose change with my fingers crossed my card isn’t lost. At least I know the location of the CAB if I am suddenly on the street homeless in Cambridge; I’d spotted it earlier.

Finally and, with intense relief, I speak to a young girl at the Anchor who, after a few tense/stressful minutes away from the phone, asks me ‘are you Mr Daniel J Sherburn?’ ‘Oh yes, I really am and I’ll be with you in 5’. I get my card, hug her warmly and depart for the remainder of my hungover day in Cambridge.

After a humid and somewhat nice walk through the backs, a look around the majestic Wren’s Library, where I spot a copy of what I think is the same edition of Dunciad by Alexander Pope I picked up for £5 from an antique bibliography on Church Street Wetherby many years ago, and then a spot of food up stairs in Indigo Café we both crash into the tedious dull post hangover blues; when you know that for the next several hours all you will want is bed and to close the door on self-centred monologued soliloquising that neither is caring to listen to.

By one pm the rain is gigantic, momentous and frighteningly like a final judgement. Everywhere I look in this tourist town there are those ‘clone like’ tourists; here they are wet beyond mere water and molecular skin depth. There are newts from Germany, toads from the USA, frogs from France, salamanders from China and some Scandinavian caecilians who end up swimming around King’s College once the boy-girl punters have departed, seeking shelter, leaving withered ‘punts’ to stare at the long abandoned ‘punts’ moored below Silver Bridge.

We share a taxi to the station, we say our goodbyes and she disappears while I head back for a thankful bed and some well needed slumber. Something might come of this?


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