9:00pm Thursday July 7th 2011. Sparkle starts tomorrow and I need to do some packing.
The plan is to take just enough clothing for the weekend.
So how much does a girl need to take to last from 2:00 pm on Friday until 2:00 pm on Sunday?
Two suitcases later and the best laid plans have gone awry. One is full of clothing the other with shoes, makeup, hair, costume jewellery, boobs and stuff.
Friday July 8th, Tina arrives at about 9:45 and soon we’re en route to Manchester.
All is goes well until round about midday.
The SatNav bleeps.
There’s a 2 minute delay a few miles ahead.
There are red brake lights in the distance and no exit between them and us.
Twenty eight minutes says the SatNav as we draw to a halt.
Twenty eight minutes becomes an exclamation mark.
The SatNav knows as little as we do.
“Maggie Sam” says Tina.
“Maggie who?” says I.
“Maggie Sam. The lorry.”
A lorry is a truck.
“The Eddie Stobart lorry. They have girl’s names.”
So ... whether you like it or not ... here is some background.
It seems recently there was a television program devoted to the Stobart Group. The web site (http://www.stobartgroup.co.uk) says:
The Stobart Group is the UK leader in multimodal transport and logistics solutions. It is one of the most recognised and strongest brands in Britain, best known for its iconic Eddie Stobart trucks. Today, Eddie Stobart is the name behind a road haulage fleet of some 2,250 trucks and over six million square feet of cutting-edge warehousing facilities. By size, Eddie Stobart has the best vehicle utilisation in the industry, helping to maximise efficiency and environmental benefits.
A few minutes at http://stobartsaddos.com/ or http://www.clubstobart.co.uk shows that Eddie Stobart spotting is a serious business. And for a mere £15 membership fee you can get a list of the names of all of them.
Here is what one looks like:
Wikepedia says that this is Sandra Ann (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eddie_Stobart_lorry_Scania_R420_Sandra_Ann_PX07_BXK_in_Plymouth,_9_August_2007.jpg ).
We haven’t met.
BBC Radio 2 informs us of a jack-knifed lorry on the M6. There are long delays.
We nod in agreement.
Approximately two and a half hours later we pass the scene of the jack-knifed lorry. The lorry is long gone, but the road is in the process of being cleaned up.
By now Andrea is suffering from StobartSaddo syndrome. The tally so far includes:
- Maggie Sam
- Carol Ann
- Melissa Nicole
- Jacquelyn ... I don’t remember her other name
Arrival at the Premiere Inn on Portland Street is at about 4:00 pm.
Tina pulls into a loading bay in a side road.
The road markings say ‘Loading Bay’. A little sign says ‘Lorries only’. Another says ‘No unloading’.
The suitcases get left in the luggage store and the car goes to the car park.
At about 6:15 we set of for the Taurus on Canal Street where we’re meeting up with a few girls for a meal. Laura and Billie arrive not long after.
We eat, drink and chat.
Tina and Laura:
Billie and me:
After eating we take a short walk and spend a few hours in Eden. The bar that is, not the garden of.
It’s quite pleasant even if it isn’t paradise.
Tina is impressed by the Wainwright’s beer. Billie kinda likes it as well. Laura has a Bud. I have a Carlsberg.
Billie goes to the bar.
“Where’s the Bud?” ask Laura.
Laura sips the Wainwright’s and doesn’t seem to be quite as impressed as Tina. You should have seen Laura’;s face a bout 10 seconds before this picture was taken.
Laura goes to the bar.
Billie decides to go for a walk.
We sit and sip.
Laura tries phoning Billie:
Andrea gets out the umbrella and wanders up and down Canal Street on a Billie search.
Next stop is the Via bar. It’s an unusual kind of place. Looks like any other bar from the outside. But if you walk in and head for the back the interior looks as though the inside of an old church building has been transplanted into it.
We find some seats and I head for the bar.
Down a couple of steps. Then down a couple of more.
All of a sudden as I turn a bend on the stairway the ground disappears.
Right hand grabs onto the banister.
Bum hits the ground.
Left arm slides along the edge of the step.
Bump. Bump. Bump.
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
A guy at the bottom helps me to my feet.
I smile sheepishly. I think.
Looking down at my stinging left arm, just below the elbow I see a patch of white shredded looking stuff.
But nothing that looks red. Apart from my dress. But the dress was red before the fall so I’m happy with that.
At the bar I buy a Carlsberg and a glass of lemonade. Then carefully head back up the steps.
Looking back at the arm it’s not just white and a little shredded any more. Red and purple. Grazed. But not bleeding. Just stinging.
Laura and Tina are eminently sympathetic. And don’t even suggest an alcohol induced injury.
The consensus is that I ought to report my little trip at the bar.
This time I negotiate the bend in the steps very carefully ... watching exactly where I out my feet ... making sure that I take the outside if the bend. On the inside the steps are very narrow. That’s the excuse that I’m sticking with at any rate.
The guy behind the bar escorts me to other bar where the first aid kit lives.
The girl behind the bar takes a look.
As the guy hunts through the first aid kit she has a cloth with antiseptic on it.
“This might sting a bit.”
It stings a lot.
The guy reappears with antiseptic wipes.
“This might sting a bit.”
It stings a lot as well.
It’s all very bruised but it’s pretty dry and there’s no blood.
A bandage is wound around my arm. A red one would go better with my dress. But I can live with the white.
I have a freebie drink and head back to join Tina and Laura.
Here I am complete with the freebie drink and the bandage.
You should see the bruise on my bum. It’s huge!
Eventually it’s time to get some sleep.
Laura is staying at the Ibis. “Just turn left at the end of Canal Street then” I say.
“No ... I think I need to go right” says Laura.
“No ... Charles Street is off to the left.”
“But I’m staying at the Ibis on Portland Street.”
“I thought Billie booked the one on Charles Street.”
Laura gets out the map.
The x is on Portland Street.
So we all head for Portland Street and some sleep.