|Madeline Grey goes to a party
On the train ride down I’ve discovered that Mark was right: Susumu Yokota. He really is the best musical accompaniment to train travel. I find it leaves the mind focused but relaxed. Perfect for being carried along through flat colourless countryside on rails. I, as ever, bow to his superior knowledge. I should play it for Jamie when I get in, he might like it. Not that I can ever tell what music he’ll like. You would think that after all the unloved albums I’d given him as disastrous Christmas presents over the years I’d be able to gauge the stuff he’d be into. Alas, I keep on making the same mistakes, but I persevere and that has to count for something.
I’m noticing the people are getting uglier the further west I go. It’s a gradual thing, the crowds get a little less pretty at every passing station. Perfectly average looking people are starting to stand out like golden demi-gods amongst their fellows. Will the attractiveness levels begin to pick up again nearer my destination, or has my poor Jamie gone to an ugly university? I can see him rushing home from his class of sour faced beastmen to bask in the glow of my photograph. I am coming to save you Jamie! I’ll give you some small respite from these poor ugly people! Do not give into despair, my love!
Christ Almighty the buildings here are uglier than the people. Still, at least Jamie has a big room in a proper house, not like the halls back home. Home? Do I really think of Uni as home now? No it’s only in relation to here. It’s not a completely unfamiliar landscape, Jamie has the Frankenstein poster from his room up. It’s comforting to see that big ol’ Frankenstein again, Jamie too of course. He’s missed me the poor lamb. But not enough to meet me on the platform apparently. The streets round the station were like a warren and he could have come to meet me if only to show some eagerness.
We met by some hideous public sculpture and went back to his place by the supermarket to get drinks for the party. At the aisle I went straight to the wine, and while reaching down something pink coloured with a multi-buy offer I noticed Jamie giving me one of his wide-eyed looks of faint concern.
‘No-one really drinks wine here,’ he said with what appeared to be sympathy. ‘I was mostly going to get beer and a bottle of tequila or something.’ Then adding ‘I mean, you should get some wine if you want some.’
I replied with a glance that clearly communicated that I did indeed want some wine and would indeed get some. The ugly cashier girl ID’d me which came as a bit of a shock. Jamie says it happens to everyone here. This is a strange and savage land.
We dragged everything up an ugly hill to his ugly house getting there just as one of his housemates was getting back with his own beer. Jamie opened the door and took what we were holding leaving the two of us stuck at that awkward pre-introduction stage. Uncertain of the unwritten rules for such a situation we had no idea if saying hello, introducing ourselves, or just making eye-contact would be considered a social faux-pas. If Jamie ever comes to halls, I’ll make him wear a name badge clearly identifying his purpose in the building and his relationship to me. It wasn’t until we’d put everything in the kitchen and were stood in the dingy living room that Jamie introduced me to the guy and a girl sat watching some day-time drivel on TV. The girl (with the unlikely name of Cassandra) had huge unfocused eyes that suggested she wasn’t completely with us. The guy (Chris) asked me what I did and I answered ‘Psychology’ with what I hoped was the most neutral intonation.
‘Wow, that’s really interesting,’ Cassandra managed in response with each syllable seeming to take great mental attention. ‘Do you find (pause) that (pause) you (pause) uh (pause) psychoanalyse everyone you (pause) meet?’
As I was assuring her that this wasn’t the case, I noticed that she hadn’t blinked once since we’d come in. Chris’ only response was a spontaneous gurgling laugh. On getting upstairs Jamie couldn’t understand my joy to find a lock on his door.
It’s nice to be here now writing my diary with Jamie and Frankenstein, just like old times. Jamie even put on one of those awful local punk bands we used to listen to in his car at a low enough volume that no one else would hear. Right now he’s telling me who’s coming to the party tonight with some excitement. I’ll get to meet David, Chris G, Jess, Chris M, New Chris, and Suzanne. My cup runneth over.
And now I’m homeward bound, almost recovered from last night’s bout of self-medication. Jamie is my only source for most of the evening’s events, recounting my activities with that same familiar doe-eyed concern. I remember quickly tiring of the old ‘Do you psychoanalyse everyone you meet?’ chestnut. I also remember that I started to reply that they had no need to fear my mighty and terrible brain powers, as their tiny minds held little to interest one such as I. Admittedly I don’t remember loudly proclaiming this while standing on a table, but Jamie informs me that this was the case.
‘You had quite an effect on Cassie,’ he told me in my hangover-enfeebled state.
‘Cassandra? Oh Christ, what did I do?’
‘You went up to her about twelve and demanded that she blink “if not for my sake, then for yours”.’
‘Christ, really, how did she take it?’
‘Oh, she thinks you’re great. She wouldn’t stop talking about you for the rest of the night.’
My fellow party-goers are mostly a blur of interchangeable people called Chris. All except ‘Jess’ who was a bit too attractive for comfort. I may have been clinging to Jamie more defensively than usual, but I didn’t challenge her to a duel or anything so I chalk up a point for self-restraint. I lacked the mental fibre to properly interrogate James about her on waking so I’ll have to do it over the phone. Everyone was calling him James. He’s totally not a James or at least he never was before. Will the new name be restricted to just this region or is that what he’s going by now? Time will tell I guess.
The train is chugging back to civilization quite happily and I have Mr. Susumu Yokota to keep me. I will have to prepare a report for Mark on my findings in the field. I’m sure he’ll be pleased that his suggestion was most suitable for the task.