Leeds training.

[written last night]

So, right now I’m in Leeds. A travelodge to be exact.

As I rolled in to the station at just after 4. A quick baguette later (Cheese and Ham – £3.45p) and I was stood outside the station, between the buses and the taxi ranks, looking at a street map board, trying to figure out where the hell my bed was for the night.

Figure this.

With a zillion more knowledgeable people around me, a map in my pocket and a massive ‘you are here’ board in front of me. For some reason I was thinking “rises in the east, sets in the west”, the sun that is. I knew the hotel was in the east and the sun was high up behind my right shoulder. Therefore, I needed to walk to my left. Cool hey? Just call me Mick Dundee.

I walked 20 yards, stopped and chucked my hoodie on proper, considered asking a taxi driver to my right, then thought sod it and wandered on in the direction of my shadow. I had plenty of time to kill after all. Within a few minutes I’d walked past a set of steps leading to an alleyway. One of those alleyways, which ‘could’ be dodgy, and not really advisable to someone who didn’t know where the hell he was walking. Whilst I continued walking, I had a niggling thought, 2 thoughts in fact. Firstly it was looked like a short cut, one of those short cuts that the locals only know about, and secondly, it looked/was roughly in the direction I should be heading (judging by the sun and all that). And that was enough for me. So I did an immediate u-turn in the pathway, much like one of those stupid people that have just forgotten they left the iron on and have to turn back home, or like one of those mad people that tend to walk in random directions based upon whatever voice in their head is speaking at the time.

I am neither, however I am a man with an instinct and the faint whiff of ‘travelodge essence’ wedged firmly up my nostrils.

I was right. As I dropped down 2 levels, within sight of a gaggle of railway arches, I hopped underneath one of them, and branched out on to a main road to be faced with a building showing a sign for the ‘lodge’ reception. Result.

The room is a double, its standard, internet access is £5 an hour. So I won’t be using it.

Within 5mins of dumping off my gear I was back out on the streets again. It was still early and I wanted to sniff round Leeds a bit and look for a fight or possibly a record shop. The later was more likely, however the former was also possible.

I did another ‘mad bloke’ u-turn on the pavement and with a double take at a bystander, who I’m fairly sure thought ‘I’ was about to mug her…. I said ‘excuse me, which direction has the most shops? That way? Or that way?’ …. she said ‘what?’ I then repeated myself a octave lower, several beats per minute slower and with less Somerset accent.

‘That way’ was the answer I was looking for. Yay 🙂

I had a few hours to kill and whilst random wanderings about a new city was a lovely thought, I actually needed to feel at home a little, somewhere I could kick off my shoes, grab a drink, relax in a comfy chair and break wind when I wanted. A bit like Waterstones… well…. not a ‘bit’ exactly…. but Waterstones exactly.

Time to go get some food. I fancy an Italian. Back in a bit.

No Italian. It looked too posh and the seats weren’t comfy enough. 2 important things about eating out. Not posh, and comfy seats. Everything else I can do, but you can’t get better than a quiet corner, back to the wall and cosy sofa to relax on. A bit like sitting in my living room.

I ended up in a Noodle bar. That’ll do. The guy behind the counter needed a name for the order, he raised both eyebrows, chuckled and said, ‘as in the guy who does Southpark?’ After I replied with ‘Matt Stone’, apparently. Note to self: be less Somerset.

Waterstones happened btw. I found myself in the ‘short stories’ section, well…. actually… in the ‘A-Z fiction’ section next to the ‘short stories’ section, because there was a bloke hogging the shelves for ages and I hovered like an undercover store detective. Actually I don’t even know if we have ‘undercover store detectives’ in the UK, however, if I’m going to play out a fictional character in mind head in a travelodge in Leeds, whilst hanging out the in the A-Z Fiction section of Waterstones, then it might as well be be something cooler than a security guard.

I now have 1 book. Its called ‘Streetwise – stories from an Irish Prison’. 11 or 12 short stories from inmates from the Midlands prison in Ireland. Its a good choice judging by the first shot I’ve read.

Taff is on a journey from hell. He left a case on his train and now he’s got to take a dozen trains and coaches all over the south to the north spanning many hours just to get here tonight. Best of luck mate. You frickin eeejid.


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