Saturday 3 December 2016

Deserted and alone in Ipswich, part II

Published 22/06/2015 | 02:30

In Ipswich, waiting for my friend I receive a message. After hours stuck on a broken down train and with one percent battery, she's in a foul mood and has and headed home. "I promise I'll never Ipswich you ever again" I reply and set off to see David Sedaris thinking 'Good one karma, I was clearly destined to take this trip, and perhaps spend the rest of my life alone.'

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Inside the sold-out venue, I feel eyes on me as I take a seat beside my invisible friend. Afterwards I buy two books and get in line for my pint-size hero to sign them. He asks me about my brother (who I get a book for) and then the killer question, 'who did you come with?' I blurt out the story of the friend whose train broke down but as the words come out of my mouth even I am unconvinced. I walk back to the hotel, irritated at how underwhelming I was in front of my favourite writer. By 11pm, the hotel has taken on a slight strip bar atmosphere - a builder stirs sugar into a coffee at the bar and a hen night wearily play pool. I get a beer and go to my room, stopping at the vending machine on the way to buy dinner, a pack of Pringles that get stuck in the machine while it eats my £2.20. In the room I watch a horrible programme called Nightmare Neighbours, about people who threaten to kill each other over a four-inch boundary line between their properties in some horrid town. I have terrible dreams and wake in the morning with a pounding headache and a mouth so dry I wonder if I ate a pair of socks in my sleep. On the train back to London, two toffs with deep throaty posh boy voices talk as we pull away from the station. "There'll always be places like that" Hooray Henry says to Little Lord Fauntleroy, "places with sluts, but reasonably attractive ones". I take the book for my brother out of my bag and read the inscription, 'Dear Anthony, I was enchanted by your charming sister', which I think will make my brother roar with laughter, but at least something good came out of Ipswich.

Sunday Independent

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