Monday, June 29, 2009

International traveller...

I’ve gone from the incredible faceless woman to the incredibly stupid one… all in the space of a few days.

This is what I looked like on the aeroplane with my face and eye masks. We landed and had a couple of days to recover, see my folks and visit the opticians etc before it was off to the Novel Racer weekend. The meeting was in Birmingham on Saturday but Spiral Jen and I were travelling north to stay with a writing friend for the weekend.

I shall leave out the heart stopping phone call that morning from a medical centre in Canary Wharf “Mrs B? We’ve got your husband here and we’re just transferring him to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel…” Obviously I cancelled my w/end plans and rushed over to RLH at Whitechapel. It was only after the doctors diagnosed ‘Man Pain’ did I reconfirm my weekend plans.

Because of the above, Jen and I missed lunch; instead we rearranged to meet at the impressive and shiny St Pancras in time for our train to Derby. That’s “IN TIME FOR OUR TRAIN, SPIRAL JEN…” There were a series of progressively panicky phone calls and texts from me, and eventually Jen came huffing into view. By this time I had checked which platform the Derby train went from, but with only three minutes to departure Jen, who’d booked the tickets, had about 42 identical looking train tickets to sift through and of course the buggering barriers needed the right one not just any old one. Just in time, we got through the ticket machines, jumped onto the train and began walking down the train to Coach E where our reservations were.

Funny; we ran out of coaches at D. Then it went something like this:
“Can we go through that door?” I said to the ticket man.
“Nope.”
The doors shut, in preparation for departure.
“Oh. How do we get to coach E then?”
“Let’s have a look at your tickets, love.”
I heard whistles blowing in the distance.
“Is this where you’re going?”
“Derby yes.” Why would I have a ticket for a destination I’m not going to?
“This is the train to Fife, love.”

I can’t remember much of what happened at this point… some squealing, possibly, about whether he could let us off before we began moving…He was only too delighted to lose us. Anyway a kind man on the platform sorted us out for new route with a change at Leicester.

We had the loveliest weekend with lots of laugher, gorgeous food and chatter. It was brilliant to meet up with more Novel Racers in Birmingham, and then all too soon it was Sunday and time to go. Our friend dropped us at Derby train station. “Look,” she said, “It goes from Platform Six, and there isn’t another one on there. (The air was heavy with the unsaid ‘Surely even you two can manage the right train this time…’)

Of course we could. The trained arrived; we checked the displays for coach numbers and boarded. The train slid out of the station. Our reservations were C19A and C20A so we were bit confused: should we be in coach C or A? I left Jen with the bags and went off to find out.

I found a nice man who told me “This is the train to Edinburgh, love.”

I wish I could tell you I was joking but I’m not. We had to get out at Chesterfield and catch another train; one that was actually going to London.

See, I’ve thought about this a lot. I think to catch one wrong train is probably stupidity; to do it twice … means your brain is concerned with loftier thoughts.

26 comments:

Ellie said...

That is quite impressive! I'm glad you made it to the Meet on Saturday, it was lovely to see you. And I thought I'd had directional difficulties following the wonky Google map...

JJ Beattie said...

Thank you Ellie (I think). It was brilliant to see you too and I'm jolly glad I've reassured you about your own directional difficulties! ;-P

I am quite brilliant!

Ellie said...

Oh please don't be offended, it was meant a directionally-challenged cameraderie! And on more than one occasion I've got on the wrong train to/from work (and there are only 3 platforms at Macclesfield station...)

Debs said...

We don't have trains over here, and I'm utterly hopeless at getting on them when I go to the UK.

JJ Beattie said...

Ellie, I'm not remotely offended m'dear so don't worry. I'm clearly a total klutz though. It's never ever happened to me before and then twice in one weekend! Pah.

Debs, Good to hear it isn't just me. I'm not normally rubbish at trains but we were obviously having too indepth a chat the second time.

liz fenwick said...

You can mange international airports but the train trips you up! I am so with you there.

lx

JJ Beattie said...

Liz, Jen said that's because they don't let you on any other flights! She thinks I might get on a plane for somewhere other than where I'm intending to go! Pah.

JJ Beattie said...

PS. Liz, we missed you...

Queenie said...

Hahahahaha that photo is sooooo funny, I've never seen a blog post with a photo punchline before. Great post, too - sorry you had all the stress and hassle but it truly does make for good material, doesn't it?

SueG said...

I know this must have been incredibly frustrating, but -- I'm sorry -- this is just so funny. And the sign at the end... Did you make this all up? But is your husband ok? How scary. xo

JJ Beattie said...

Queenie, thank you. Yes, I suppose *grudgingly* it does make for a good story and lots of material.

Normally I am the kind of person who arrives before the previous train leaves!

Sue, sadly I'm not making any of it up. Evidently I really am that stupid. Husband is okay. First they thought kidney stones and finally they decided gastroenteritus. He told me this morning that he thought it must have been man pain!

Carol said...

hahaha, you can never ever tease me again about being at the airport to meet the in-laws a day early!!!

Glad you had a nice time!! Can't wait to see you on the 16th :-)

C x

SpiralSkies said...

Oh. My. God. The shame. The utter, utter shame. Our minds really ARE on a higher plane, it's so true.

After all that, I nearly wet myself hoping that my Hastings train wasn't bound for Glasgow. But not as much as reading your post.

You must admit. We were crap, but we were gorgeously consistent XXX

SpiralSkies said...

PS - I've stolen the station photo as my desktop pic. It's just brilliant X

Cathy said...

LOL!! You couldn't make that up, could you?

Cx

B said...

I'm going to bookmark this for next time I'm feeling miserable and need a giggle. I hope that's ok with you both?!?

LOVE LOVE LOVE the second pic. If only they really said that! I'd still let you two on, though :)

Amanda said...

So funny! Love the photos too, JJ :-))

Leatherdykeuk said...

Oh deah!

Of course... DK and I live in Chesterfield.

JJ Beattie said...

Carol, Oh bum. I can't, can I?

Jen, I was terrified when I had to be responsible for my children when catching the train to my parents!

Cathy, no, *sigh* you couldn't.

B, oh good, I'm glad some good has come from our chronic stupidity.

Amanda, thank you (I do love Photoshop)

Rachel, you have no idea how close Jen and I came to calling...

Angie said...

Oh dear, that sounds like quite the adventure. At least you got some good laughs! That picture is brilliant too. :)

JJ Beattie said...

Thanks Angie. I think it makes me officially stupid too!

L-Plate Author said...

Are you sure you want to 'pop' in for tea if we don't meet in October????

God, you sound so like me but at least I get there two hours before the train leaves just to make sure I get the right one...don't know which is worstx

Tam said...

Oh dear. That is spectacularly consistent and I salute you. It's obviously the fault of the transport system for not making things clear :-)

Liane Spicer said...

This is seriously funny - though obviously not so for you and SS.

Don't have trains any more where I come from, but I once raced into a station in Florida in the nick of time to catch my train - only to have it set off north, the opposite direction from where I was headed. I appealed to the engineer(?) who called the next stop, which was Fort Lauderdale, and asked them to hold the southbound train a couple minutes for me. Got there, hopped across train lines and finally boarded the correct train.

Lots of eyes were on me and I spent the trip studiously avoiding meeting any of them.

Inspiral Daze said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

I do believe that, at some point in the future when my number's up and my life flashes before my eyes, the phrase "This is the train to Fife, love' will be up there in sparkling letters. Never, ever, will I forget that day.

I bet the 'helpful' chap on the platform will never forget our heaving bosoms lurching towards him either. Poor sod.