Part Eight: Coach Trip

Saul Pope is the most mendacious, conniving and nasty author on this earth, and that’s saying something when you think of what Mills and Boon have put us through. I’ve just found out the real reason why I was temporarily evicted from the luxury apartment in Bayswater owned by a fifteen-year-old Russian. But the good news is I was on Coach Trip for a week.

 Scottish Paul’s boiler expired three days after I arrived at his place in Hereford, sending me sprawling off the settee and onto the greasy carpet as it announced this at three in the morning. Surely he’s got enough money to do some repairs around his aunt’s old flat and perhaps refit the carpets at the same time, though he didn’t seem to take too kindly to my suggestions when I woke him up and told him what had just happened.

 I spent the next day wrapped in a blanket whilst he worked at the local post office, trying to ignore the crick in my neck and trying to work out whether there was any way I could avoid boiling up a kettle of water to wash my hands and face. Anyone would think I was camped on some remote Nottinghamshire field, not in a flat in the very hub of Herefordshire.

 Luckily there was a way of avoiding this – all I needed to do was work out where Scottish Paul kept his passport. An afternoon peak at Channel 4 gave me my getaway; after Coach Trip there was an announcement asking for a new couple to urgently join the show. I called the number on the screen immediately:

             ‘Can you get you and your partner to Dover tonight? We need you in Bologna by tomorrow lunchtime.’

            ‘Yes.’

            ‘Great! Do you know the format of the show? You know what’s expected of you?’

            ‘Of course.’

 I’ve never actually watched a full episode of the programme, but consider myself a quick learner, hence I didn’t really feel I was lying. Having found Paul’s passport (he keeps it in a faux leather holder in a hallway drawer, like 85% of all English people), I made my way to the post office:

             ‘What? We’re going to be on that crap?’

            ‘Yes’

            ‘Why?’

            ‘Well, what have you got to keep you in Hereford for the next few days? We’ll probably be voted off as soon as they can choose us.’

 Bologna was actually quite fun, once I’d moved away from the bloke who always moans about the food, though I wasn’t too keen on wine-treading and refused to drink the wine there – I can’t believe, given the state of some people’s toenails, that they still tread wine. A bit of flirting almost got underway at the evening meal when a flush-faced but pretty young Australian contestant, deciding that I was a celebrity after she heard about Russia, The Man and Jonathan David, offered to give me a foot massage. Mum’s always said that I’ve got really tickly feet, and so it proved as I inadvertently kicked Felicity in the face as she brushed against my left sole. Paul ended up kissing her rather than me, but that’s a good thing. Maybe they show Coach Trip in Russia; Olesya could have seen it.

 We lasted longer than I thought, mainly because of Paul snogging his way to at least one vote per episode, but in the end we were let down by the fact that we quite liked the food and the local people, unlike the other contestants, and the inevitable lovers’ tiff that took place during a pottery-making session in Ljubljana. At least he didn’t throw the pot back at her…

 Back in Dover, I realised that I was still temporarily homeless – luckily Paul offered a few more nights on his freezing settee in Hereford. Aware that he probably wouldn’t put up with his flat smelling of nearly 200 sticks of salami for much longer, I messaged Vladik as soon as I got back to find out when the Bayswater apartment would be free again. I got an immediate reply:

             Jonathan, flat is free now. Has always been free. Sorry I betray you but Saul Pope offer me part in film.

             Vladik, what are you talking about?

             He think you boring. Told me to remove you from flat to make you do exciting thing so your blog is more interesting. Now you on Trip Coach he says you succeed. I see this is Russia, is good show.

 I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Saul Pope is now in the business of bribing minors with parts in films in an effort to shift more copies of his pathetic novel!

             Vladik, please be careful – Saul Pope is very stupid to have made you do this to me. I am disgusted with him, though admit it’s rather clever at the same time. I don’t blame you, but please don’t let him flatter you.

            Jonathan, you are good friend. Saul Pope will not flatten me or my father kill him. I come to England soon, but please do not put me on programme Coach Trip. Really it is crap programme, only for old and stupid people maybe.

I will return to Bayswater in the morning. After such shocking news of Saul Pope’s teachery, there was only one thing to do – listen to a song that makes it seem like it’s always 1992, a time before the world was quite so dark, and that song is a slab of cheesy rave called Don’t Go by The Awesome 3.

And if you’re bored this summer, you might want to take a look at my earlier adventures in this book. It’s just a pity the author’s such a devious twit…

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