About a week ago, you all heard about my worst nightmare coming to life. I don’t particularly want to make this a weekly theme, but I thought I would share just one more with you all.
My colleague Laura and I had a 6.30pm meeting in Bath last night, about a 2 hour journey from Oxford. As we walked to the station around 4.30, Laura confessed to me how much she hates trains. I assumed she had a (probably irrational) fear about railway safety, and didn’t want to rouse a can of worms, let alone open it; we passed over the comment and continued our journey.
The two trains we took were this weird mix of ultra-modern and throw-back. For instance, to get out of the train, you had to roll down the door’s window, stick your head and arm out and open the door from the outside.
But each seat came equipped with one of these babies, with live news coverage for free:
The “meeting” turned out to be more of a “cocktail party”. I was wearing jeans and a woollen sweater. I tried desperately to be cool enough to be there by holding a wine glass with pinky finger extended and eating as many finger sausages canapes as everyone else was doing (it’s amazing how people pig out at these things.)
After a few hours, we left to catch our 8:43pm train. We had plenty of time, and I mean plenty. We had a quick bit to eat and walked to the train station, slowly, savouring our full bellies and a stimulating conversation.
You can guess where this leads.
We walked up to the platform, looked across at the other platform, and watched our train pull away before our eyes.
“NOOOOOOOOO!” Laura moaned.
Then she whimpered, defeated. “This is my worst nightmare.”
I realized immediately my need to buoy the situation. I really, really, really did not want to see tears running down those cheeks.
The next train was at 10:02. As we sat in the reception area, we played a classic waiting room game called Guess What Time It Is Now. If you have never played Guess What Time It Is Now, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Player one guesses what time it is. Then Player 2 guesses. Then you repeat as often as time allows (pun. I think.).
At 9:46 they announced an unfortunate delay of unknown duration.
At 10:00 they announced a 15 minute delay.
At 10:10 they announced a 25 minute delay.
At 10:15 the announced a 27 minute delay. Now, was that really a necessary adjustment? We were already feeling rotten.
At 10:23 – 33 minutes.
At 10:30 – 45 minutes.
At 10:35 – 43 minutes – the momentary lifting of spirits….
Only to have them dashed at 10:44 – 55 minutes.
At 10:57, our train rolled into the station, with the 11:03 on its proverbial heels.
I joked with Laura that we might as well take the 11:03 at this point. She laughed weakly.
I realize now why she so fears trains. They have this inevitable clockwork precision when you least need them to, and at inopportune moments are erratic and clockworkly slow.
We arrived home at midnight and a half and, let me tell you, my pillow has never smelled so sweet.