The best laid plans…

Posted retrospectively for 4th November*

When you’re having to travel to another country to attend a funeral, you want things to go smoothly.  You want your journey to be stress free, after all, you’re not really in the mood for any trouble.

Friday, my sister and I were making the regrettable journey to Ireland to attend the funeral of our dear aunty, who had sadly passed away on the Wednesday.  It was a journey we wished we didn’t have to make – not because we didn’t want to be at the funeral, of course we did, rather because we wished there simply wasn’t a funeral at all.  If only it could have just been a regular trip to visit our family there, for no reason other than to drop in, say hello, and catch up.  Sadly, on this occasion, that was not the reason.

So there we were, in a bit of a daze, a wheelie bag full of black clothes in each of our hands, standing on the platform at Clapham Junction waiting for the train to Gatwick. “Ah, here it is…” we said, as we looked at the board – which said quite clearly that Gatwick was the third destination for the train now arriving – and we trundled on to the carriage and sat ourselves down.  We whizzed on to East Croydon, the doors opened, the doors shut, the announcement stated: “this train will now run non-stop to Brighton”…. Brighton?!?! Brighton?!?!? What?!?! – “but, it can’t be?!” – sadly it was.  Yes, seaside bound we were, and while that would have made for a nice day out, we had a flight to catch at 2:50pm from Gatwick, to get to Ireland, to get to a funeral, and it was now 12.55pm.  S**T!

We started doing the mental arithmetic – “so, if we arrive in Brighton at 1.30pm, and catch the train at 1.34pm to Gatwick, we’ll get there for 2pm, then we have to get through passport and security and to the gate by 2.25pm, and we’ll make the flight…” – oh god, no room for error then! Brilliant.  Again, just what you want when you’re already feeling under par and like you’re not quite part of the human race.  Sigh.  Not to mention the prospect of having to pay for another flight or to transfer onto another flight. Double sigh.

So we arrive at Brighton, 1.30pm, we body-roll off the train and run like the wind (well, I run like the wind, I’m wearing flats, my sis has to totter as fast as she can as she’s wearing boots with heels – error!), our eyes frantically seeking out the right platform to head for. We spot it, we run for it, we have 4 minutes, amazingly we get it, we leap onto the carriage, then we sit on the platform for another 2 minutes 30 seconds, us panting, everyone else looking quite calm and unruffled.  We made it, phew.  And thankfully there’s no “but” here, we did actually make it, and off we set (again) for Gatwick.

14:00 – we arrive at Gatwick, we leap off the train, I run for the exit, my sister runs in the opposite direction… “this way!!” I yell, she does a u-turn and bombs it down the platform (still in aforementioned unpractical footwear), we run up the escalator two-steps at a time (actually that last bit is a lie, but it does make it sound more cinematic, so lets leave it in for now and put it down to artistic licence) and then slalom our way through the other travellers in a bid to get to departures and through security in time to meet the 14:25 gate closes deadline.

And can you believe it? we actually made it!  We actually got through security and to the gate by about 14:15 – I mean when does that EVER happen?!  Never in my experience.  “This always happens when I’m with you…” my sister comments, “mind you” she adds, “in fairness, you could say the same about me…” – so maybe we’re just disastrous travellers in tandem, who knows, but we did make that flight to Dublin and we did make it to the funeral, and thankfully with only a couple of Hugh Grant swearing impressions along the way.

The moral of this story? – ALWAYS leave yourself enough time to make a journey, because you never know when you might be forced to take an unexpected detour to the seaside, and remember to wear appropriate footwear so you can run and roll Mission Impossible style to your destination if the need arises.

*I’m taking part in NaBloPoMo 2011 – National Blog Posting Month – which means I am meant to blog every day in November.  As I unexpectedly and very sadly had to go to Ireland on the 4 November for a funeral, I’m now playing bloggy catch up, hence the retrospective posting

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