Friday, May 01, 2009

On a train ticket-sized hole in the space/time continuum

On a train ticket-sized hole in the space/time continuum

16th April 2009: A visit to the Eden Project

"This is RUBBISH. I've been here two hours already, and I still haven't got my cheese."

"If you murder that Edam Project joke again, I shall seriously divorce you."

"Still", I say, "They really need to sort out their litter-picking. I can see a train ticket over there."

"Well," sighs The Fragrant Mrs Duck, "Pick it up and put it in the bin"

So I get up, walk across the sward, and pick up the stray litter sticking out of the otherwise neatly-trimmed hedge.

"It's not a ticket," I say, managing not to vomit into the thoughtfully provided hedgerow, "It's a seat reservation."

Seat Reservation. Not a Travel Ticket.

From: Edinburgh

To: Bournemouth

Time: 0905

Date: 31st May 2006

Seat: Carriage C Seat D28
"Well, bugger me down dead. That certainly explains a lot".

Dissolve to...

31st May 2006: Edinburgh Waverley station, the 0905 train from Edinburgh to Bournemouth.

Having rubbed shoulders at a conference with royalty, top politicos and the DG of the esteemed organisation which pays my salary, I am more than ready to return to the loving bosom of my family.

Fleeing my hotel – Edinburgh's Grab-a-Granny central, I take the short walk to the railway station and find the train south already waiting at the platform.

"Excuse me madam, you appear to be sitting in my seat"

"Och, sorry, did you have a reservation?"

"Yes. Yes I do. I have it in my wallet, here."

After several minutes of fumbling: "Oh, I can't find it. I had it just this morning. Carriage C, Seat D28, I remember clearly."

"Well, I'm here now. If you haven't got your reservation, you'll just have to sit elsewhere."

Like, for example, the only other free seat in the carriage. Being, in this case, in the company of a tired and emotional woman clutching a half-finished bottle of Buckie, in charge with two pre-school kids, already bored out of their skulls and also clutching half-finished bottles of Buckie.

"Keep it down, you pair," she slurs as I take my seat, "It's only ten hours to Bournemouth."

Inside I die and ponder where – exactly – my seat reservation might be.

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