So, okay, it didn't get off to an entirely auspicious start, on account of my best mate forgetting to pick me up from the station. Especially since she wasn't picking up from both her house or her mobile phone, either.
Lesser folk might be forgiven for suspecting they were just a teensy-weensy bit unwelcome, huh? Ah, not me, I know how hopeless she is, besides, we had the whole four days plotted out, I knew something had happened, so I guess I was really more concerned than upset.
Having successfully navigated myself (and luggage) from Gatwick airport to East Croydon, the only friend greeting me was this serenading homeless guy, the one with the dodgy eau-du-pee cologne. After an hour of standing about in the baking heat together, I finally paid him enough for him to bugger off, leaving me free to reluctantly resort to calling her mum at home (Little Ally, my alleged best mate, lives but a few streets walk away from her).
Seems - wait for it - she fell asleep sunbathing in the garden. Nice, eh? Anyways, she and her mum finally arrived (she suitably apologetic and mortified) to receive a stereo ear-bashing from the pair of us (my newly returned homeless friend, and I).
Still, she tried to make up for it, found some sticking-plasters for my skinned toes, and proceeded to medicate me with a bucket and half of wine, over a long, leisurely catch-up pub-lunch. Sadly, her mum (being seventy-five) doesn't usually drink very much - it proved quite an adventure getting her back into the cab with us again. Ah but, don't fret, we did have her grown grandson agree to sit the night through with her, he's a very solid and responsible (if disapproving) lad, he is, and he loves his gran.
It's a shame I was a limping, Hop-Along-Cassidy for most of the weekend, but it still didn't prevent us from shopping 'til we almost dropped, or from later meeting up with the girlies, at their local Karaoke pub. Mind, we probably should have called it a night after that, not all piled back to the house to carry on the joviality's.
That's what comes of two middle-aged matrons let loose on the town. With her hubby on a fishing trip, and mine home sitting the kids, we clean forgot we're not the teenager's we once were any more.
So that's how I eventually came to fall asleep with my contact lens still glued to my eyeballs.
It wouldn't have been the end of the world, had I woken with the good common sense to first use drops before attempting to remove them, but as I so rarely use the darn things, it clean slipped my mind. See, soft lens have this tendency to dry out, thus sealing firmly to the surface of your eye. As I plucked one out, I ripped the top layer of my left retina off with it.
So now I'm not just the limping, hop-along, wonder, I also have only one eye left to see through. And it hurt. A lot. It's blood-red, swollen shut, and gushing a burst river-bank of tears down my contorted face. That was just the beginning, it grew progressively worse by the minute, swelling to twice it's size.
Not that that's the only disaster, ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh dearie me, no. Not at all.
See, I haven't filled you in on the full picture yet. Today is the day I must look my whole gorgeous best, it's imperative, critical to the plan. How the hell can this be happening to me?
Let me explain.
A couple of decades back, my best mate used to be the secretary/PA to the very same guy I was once betrothed to be married to. It was kind of a big deal at the time, we had thrown the engagement party, collected the rings, booked the church, set the date, and even bought the frock, the complete works. Fortunately, she (my pal) being a far better best mate than she ever was a loyal employee, had no qualms whatsoever in telling me, once she found out, that he was being a deceitful, lying, cheating, slutty-whore of a rat behind my back, laying anything that walked. Naturally, I dumped him from a great height, to never see the dirt bag again.
Miraculously, she almost but didn't quite, lose her job over it all, and continued to work on for several more years with him. In fact, it was only after marriage and kids called, that she finally left the firm.
In the meantime, both my ex and I soon moved on. He married my Doppelganger (well, that's what I've been told), and I went on to marry the most loyal man on earth (What? Well, I did too, so there!) It's now all water under the bridge, I haven't set eyes on him in well over twenty-odd years.
By pure coincidence, whom should our Little Ally only go and bump into last week? Of course she couldn't help but to mention my up-coming trip over.
And he offered to buy us lunch.
This is meant to be my moment, isn't it? To sail up, be gracious and charming, look a million dollars, and go off leaving him feeling gutted and regretful for the rest of his sorry life.
So it was a bit of a come-down to find myself hobbling up to greet him wearing a sodding eye-patch. With my eye constantly leaking, my nose was stuffed, and I spent the entire duration running to the loo to blow my nose and wipe my mascara. I break out in nasty red blotches when my eyes leak.
And him? The Pratt didn't even have the good grace to sport so much as a beer belly, did he?
(Ally in front, me behind, the day before I looked a train-wreck.)
The lunch was pleasant enough, but it was NOT how I'd planned it. In fact, I think he left feeling he'd had a very, very lucky, narrow escape indeed. As for me? I'm still with the eye patch, and have a doctor's appointment lined up for later.
When I fessed up to Hubby, he almost wet himself laughing.
Life is seldom fair, is it?