Saturday, 11 April
It had been decided that I was going to spend Easter with my university friend Kay in a town outside ofPeterborough. Jane had bought the ticket for me on line and I had to get to Victoria Coach Station to collect the ticket and catch the coach toPeterborough. Jane, in her sick state, needed to come with me because she had the credit card that the ticket was purchased with and she wanted to make sure I got off ok. After the tubes, walking and eventually finding the Coach Station, we ended up rushing and being late to collect the ticket from the Perspex, speak-through-the-microphone ticket office.
“Hi, please may I collect the ticket for Shannan Lea. I’m on the next coach to Peterborough.”
The lady looks at her computer and types with undeniably riveted enthusiasm (that’s said very sarcastically), that creates her monotone reply, “There is no booking for a Miss Leigh.”
I spell it for her. L.E.A.
“There is no ticket for that Lea either. You have not booked a ticket.”
“But the cost of the ticket has been taken out of the bank account.” I remember Jane saying it had been paid for. She was now in the corner trying to breathe, her chest had closed up due to our rushing. I didn’t have time for this woman, and I was worried about Jane, who should’ve been home in bed; and I should have been on the coach already.
“You don’t have a ticket and that coach is full.”
“I have paid for the ticket, and I’m supposed to be on that coach.”
“Do you have a reference number?” I didn’t, the company hadn’t sent us a confirmation email they had only taken the money.
“No, I don’t. You never sent one. You only took the money from the account.” Reference numbers! Always have a reference number.
“You don’t have a reference number and you don’t have a space booked. That coach is full and you will have to wait for the next one with a space.”
I’m not going to win this; all she does is monotonously and infuriatingly repeat herself. Jane looks like she is in pain and I’m not in the mood: “How long until the next one?”
“A couple of hours.”
I’m so over this! I walk away from the cold Perspex window, very angry and irritated.
I decided I had to get to the train station, and get toPeterboroughin the fastest way possible. Jane recovered enough for us to move again and she said that she would be fine, so we went to Kings Cross and I bought a ticket there and then. The chaos ended up costing me £52.50 instead of £13.00. It was infuriating and the huge price difference was a great shock to my system, but I had had enough and I was going to do anything to get on a train and get away from this city. On the train I was thinking that I just want to get on with everything already. I find it so difficult to reply on others and I always end up irritating myself to the point of completely distracted analytical irrationalisations. My mind didn’t stop thinking and being vexed the whole train ride. Poor Kay on the other side!
I was in a bad mood for most of the afternoon and then I got over myself. Kay knows me well and put up with my need to release the tension and she gracefully listened to me vent and moan about everything that had gone wrong in my life in the past 6 months (when I said ‘completely distracted’, I meant it). Letting it all out had calmed me down and we carried on with our time together. We took a bus to her village called Deeping St James (I was incorrect to call it a town) and we walked to her home. There were quite a few years of catching up to do and she was thrilled to show me her wedding album and tell me the tales of the event I hadn’t had the finances to attend. Naturally she looked lovely and had had a fabulous time on the day, mishaps and all. (I feel like I should be telling you about some of the conversation, but I don’t remember all the details, there was a ceremony, photos, a reception, a DVD, family speeches, food and dancing. I’m sure you may have had one of those: “So tell me all about your wedding” conversations, like we did, and I think that as long as she remembers the day, that is all that matters; or does that make me a shallow friend? I’m not sure…)
Sooner than expected it was time for dinner and the three of us (her husband had returned from work) hopped in the car and headed to a fantastic pub dinner in a quaint little family spot next to a lake. It was exactly the calming and humbling experience I needed to breathe again. The pub was the restaurant for a camping ground, so there were families coming in and out, ‘80s music on in the back ground, a fabulously diverse menu and everyone was literally chilled out; infinitely better than the crazy city. Thankfully the day ended far more happily than it had begun.