The house feels deflated again now that we are are a child down back at university but the journey back did give us the opportunity to make a short weekend in Brighton out of it.
The weekend started well with me in a pub having come off the train from London with the rest of the family already there and me trying to work out how to make contact with a mobile phone that had died through lack of battery some minutes previous.
In some respects it was good to be passed back to those days when the mobile phone was but a large brick carried by a few and the rest of us had to make do with making plans, setting out explicit instructions as to where to meet up and then keeping to them. That was all okay but no plans had been set out and all I knew was that I had arrived and the rest of the family was elsewhere waiting for me to make contact.
I spent some time walking up and down streets to see if there were any pay-phones still in existence but once the two or three streets were trod down it became apparent that they weren’t and it occurred to me that their last bastion might be inside a pub. Luckily there was a pub to hand so I made my way in.
Of course there is no point going into a pub and looking for a pay-phone without having a pint. So the pint was ordered and as it was placed in front of me I asked the question -‘Do you have a pay-phone?’
There was a short pitying look. I was obviously asking about something that had last featured in any pub about 15 years ago. ‘No’ I was told.
But then sympathy took over and a question was asked as to whether I was planning on a call to Australia.
I was able to deny this and provide half an explanation that the call that was to be made was to go no further than a phone perhaps half a mile away the recipients of which were hoping to meet me. At which, rather to my surprise, the pub phone was put in front of me and I was given free reign.
At which point of course I tried to dredge up the odd phone number from Australia that had been awaiting my attention. None came to mind and so the family was called and arrangements made for me to meet with them in the next thirty minutes or so.
That thirty minutes left me time to finish my pint and order another and as all was well with the world to ask for a packet of pork scratchings. It occurred to me that the order of the pork scratchings could have been mis-construed but I was able to avoid any further difficulties by keeping my eyes down as I nibbled at the hard bits of pig skin.
I then left the pub and spent a happy twenty minutes shovelling coins into a pay phone I found in Brighton Station to try make contact with family so as to check on the arrangements made. It appears that things have moved on from the days when all that a pay-phone required was a handful of 2p coins. You still require a handful of coins but now there is no great guarantee of contact at the other end. No matter I was able to solicit a promise from a nice man at BT they would send me a cheque.
Notwithstanding the mishaps with the phone me and the family met up and we had a fine Mexican meal at La Choza in The Lanes. For some of us the third meal that had been had there over the last 18 months and very good it was particularly when the masks came out.