“The icing on the turd” / Support network special

My group of friends from university is rather unconventional. Ever since those fateful first few days, thirteen (has it been so long?!) years ago we’ve had an odd method of supporting one another through hard times. We call it the “Support Network,” though each of us is fully aware of the irony of that title. Essentially how it works is that when something goes wrong in one of our lives the rest of us take the piss relentlessly until we see the funny side (please note that we are selective in what we deem to be an event worthy of humour – general misfortune is fair game, break ups generally so and deaths absolutely never. We aren’t completely inhumane).

Yesterday a few of the old gang got together again in London. Having foolishly believed the weather forecast we’d made plans befitting of a glorious summer’s day; a stroll around Greenwich in the sunshine. Unfortunately this plan was not to be, since the heavens opened at 4pm and torrential rain poured down for several hours. Undeterred (well, mildly deterred), we ventured over to Greenwich despite the disappointing conditions but, after finding that it wasn’t all that fun to walk around knee deep in puddles, we duly ensconced ourselves in the nearest pub. From there we sank some pints, ate some pies and headed into London Bridge for beers, card games and karaoke.

When today dawned beautifully bright and clear, we hastily made plans to revisit Greenwich, this time certain that the sun would shine and all would go to plan. We’d start, we reasoned, with a trip on the cable car from North Greenwich, then head over to Greenwich Village afterwards. And so a plan was borne, and we assembled our merry gang at North Greenwich tube and headed over to the cable car base station. After queuing for twenty minutes to purchase tickets we went through the barriers and queued up for a car, excited about our imminent flight over London in clear skies. But it was not to be, for as we reached the very front of the queue and were but inches from our car, the staff told us regrettably high winds meant it would have to stop. Dejected and incredulous we trooped back down the stairs and through the ticket barrier and headed to the ticket window to ask for our money back. No such luck; we would, we were told, have to call the number on the back of our Oyster cards to file a claim.

In an attempt to salvage the afternoon we walked over to the pier and purchased tickets for the boat to Greenwich Village, realising too late that the next boat was not due to depart for 30 minutes. After what seemed like an eternity we boarded the boat and reached our destination, disembarking beneath the impressive Cutty Sark and all agreeing things were looking up. After a short stroll we saw a sign for the ‘best sausage rolls in the world’ – a claim we felt duty bound to verify. We sought out the shop in question and requested five of these world-class sausage rolls – and were informed they only had four left. Feeling slightly short changed we purchased and shared all four, then walked across the road into the park.

Spotting a sign for ice cream we ventured inside a shop and joined yet another queue, confident that when we reached the front there’d be a plethora of delicious flavours to choose from. Again it was not to be, for there were only two flavours left; strawberry (my least favourite ice cream flavour) and pear sorbet (who eats pear sorbet? Well, nobody by the look of it seeing as it was all that was left). We grudgingly settled for strawberry and walked back outside – by which time fat grey clouds were rolling in and obscuring the sun. As we walked up the hill to Greenwich Observatory holding our ice creams rain drops flecked our cheeks like little warnings to turn back – which is exactly what we should have done, given that we reached the top only to find we’d missed the last entry to the Observatory by 15 minutes and couldn’t go in. It was at this point that Frank remarked, “Well, that’s just the icing on the turd” – a fine phrase that perfectly encapsulated the mood of the moment.

We finished the day with a pint by the river, taking in the last of the sun and both reminiscing over and revelling in our own misfortune. By the end of it we were hysterical with laughter, as we always are when we’re together.

Another Support Network Special – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way 🙂

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