Weeks ago, in thrall to an “efficiency”, I bought a return ticket from Paris to Somewhere in Rural France to see Hughes the Elder. Leaving the house to catch the plane for Paris, I left the tickets on my bedside table. Arriving in Paris Gare de Lyon, I bought a second ticket to Somewhere in Rural France. Buying a return ticket would assure me of having a ticket for the return leg. I bought a single.
I surfed the internet (a fantastic device, they say it will be a big thing) and e-bought the e-return. I will pick it up at the station when I go home. After a lovely week of fine wine, strong cheese and odd dreams, Hughes the Elder drives me to Gare du Somewhere in Rural France.
There’s a diversion and we park a few minutes’ walk from the station. The diversion is a red herring which steals valuable moments. We arrive. I collect my ticket. Do I have my reservation number? Of course not. We argue. I don’t speak French and Hughes the Elder’s hearing is poor. I buy another ticket (this is the third I have bought for the same journey). I miss the train. I panic. We think. I get annoyed. I buy a ticket from a station 200 kms away.
We must drive quickly. Allez-vites, allez-vites. We are in the car. We are lost. We are found. We are going the wrong way. We are going the right way. We are where we started. We’ve lost half an hour. We must go quickly. We need a pee. We stop, pee and continue. My spirits have lifted. I am no longer angry. The gods smile on us. The journey is fast, the conversation engaging. We bond. We arrive. Will we find the station?
We do, miraculously quickly. I have my ticket. We joke about missing the train. The train is late. It arrives. I say my goodbyes and headbutt a girl walking in the opposite direction. My eyes water; she is bruised and affronted.
The train door won’t open. I try another. Hughes the Elder worries. No problem at all! I laugh and wave affably. My eyes are streaming and my nose throbs. I board the train and find a seat.
Two and a half hours later, I arrive in Paris. An hour to cross town and I arrive at Paris Orly airport with time to spare. I drop my mp3 player down a toilet.