It all started off Friday, October 17th. Or rather the following dawn. The omens had gathered on the obscure side of life to cast me one of those spells that leave you petrified and make you do the dumbest things.
In my case, it resulted in my missing my flight out to Rome – well partly at least. So much for the Papal City and the pizzas I was going to guzzle down over the weekend. And of course, a flight never seems to be alone: wham I missed the return leg of the journey as well. So much for the long night hours spent in Ciampino’s locally flavored airport (see a previous post on the topic).
Two flights down so far. It so happened that in addition to going to Naples that weekend, I’d also planned to attend a conference in Sweden (Stockholm, the city built on top of 14 islands, where a good friend of mine – Andres – lives). But due to work, I had to forfeit that trip. Way out, way back. Two flights gone kapploie. And since I thought at the time of booking that going to Stockholm was probably not going to quench my thirst for travel, I’d snuck a layover in Oslo into the schedule as I have another friend – Leyre – there. No Stockholm domino-implied no Oslo. Here goes another flight.
So by the time I reached Sunday, Oct 26th, I had let no less than 5 flights wither away. I wish I could claim tragically that the very paper on which my Ryanair e-ticket was printed had also waned but in this modern day and age, I’m afraid that piece of paper stayed pretty much as it was the day it came out piping hot of the Xerox monster.
And to top it all, to surpass this nonsensical flight missing (or no-show), there’s nowhere (now here) quite like home. Tomorrow I’m going to Tunisia and because my flight out of City Airport is so early, I’m staying at a colleague’s house in Colchester. Quite naturally, come the time to travel, Pili – a Spanish friend – drives me to the station well in time to catch the 20:42 train. As a matter of fact, I had so much time I confidently walked up to the ticket counter to buy my way onboard on this grand Nat’l Express service to Essex’s capital city (proud to be Britain’s first recorded town). As I take the ticket and my credit card back from the lady, I casually ask her whether the train will be departing from the platform. And as I speak I point to the train currently parked there. The sales assistant confirms what I’ve always known after three years in Ipswich: platform 2, is it? London-bound it is then.
No sooner had I boarded the train with a good ten minutes to go before departure than I heard the ominous sound of a station manager’s whistle bidding farewell to a train. Not just any train. My train. By Jove! It all seemed clear enough I was onboard the wrong transport. Where was I off to? Surely not Norwich, that would be catastrophic. Please don’t let it be Lowestoft, God only knows when I could come back from deep Suffolk.
As it so happens, the train I had so surely boarded led me to Harwich International. To make matters more bittersweet, the train came within yards of an intermediary station which, had the train stopped there, would have reduced the strain on my wee heart sinking at the rate of today’s financial markets.
I had no other solution but to wait for the train to reach its destination, make a desperate dash for the Colchester-bound train, miss the latter by a handful of seconds, and eventually, board the same train again to return to Ipswich much like a sheepish hunter walking back empty-handed from a fox hunt.
All in all, I will have crossed platforms twice in Harwich, twice in Ipswich (as trains were shifted around), and once in Colchester. I shan’t count the steps I had to climb but surely there were more than Hitchcock’s 39.
As my train swept by Harwich’s harbor, I took in the scenery and snapped a pic of an idle ferry. With the train gliding along its way inland, the picture came out blurry…