The phone rang at 2am this morning. It was Fiona. She made no bones about it, telling Mirinda to book the first flight she could and get to Sydney asap. Things were not looking good.
We jumped out of bed, made hot drinks and then went onto the Internet. We had a flight booked by 3:15 and then started packing.
At 7:30am, I called Carole at the taxi firm we use and, fortunately she could take us to Heathrow at 8:30. We left the house for the airport.
Traffic was nicely flowing and we arrived at Terminal 3 in plenty of time to check-in, dump the suitcase and then go to Costa’s for a last latte before security. We hugged and I waved her goodbye as she went through the Fast Track gate.
While Mirinda was relaxing in the Singapore Air Business Lounge, I headed down to the Central Bus Station to hop on the next coach to Woking. I managed to get a ticket for the 10:30 and stood and waited for the driver. As it turned out I was the (unfortunately) only person on it.
We didn’t leave straight away because the driver was having a strange problem with his seatbelt and was waiting for some sort of technician to come out and fix it. He told me all about his seatbelt issues but mumbled so badly that I have no idea what the problem actually was.
Eventually we left the airport and headed to the M25 which had a few traffic jams and holiday morons. I know, because rather than having a nice, much needed nap, the driver insisted on telling me about every one of them. He also told me all about his timetable changes with the other driver. I grunted as if I understood.
The only thing I really understood was when he told me someone was filming a television programme at Woking station. He hadn’t spotted any celebrities, so he claimed. When we arrived at Woking, they’d all gone from the forecourt and moved to the platform.
I couldn’t find an Alton train on the indicator board, although there was supposed to be one at 11:49. Then I noticed the announcement declaring that there were no trains to Alton because of ongoing engineering work.
I asked a station guy what was happening. He told me I’d have to get the Basingstoke train to Farnborough and then get a replacement bus to Farnham. He then went into a well prepared spiel about how these ‘essential’ engineering works, including an extra bit of track in some places, would improve the service and be ongoing for the next six months.
I was standing on the platform being suitably irritated when, suddenly, a whole bunch of people, dressed like commuters, suddenly appeared at one end of the platform and walked, en masse to the other. It was like something out of the Twilight Zone.
These were the extras, heading down to an empty train, obviously parked at the unused platform 6 for them to use as a set.
Eventually the Basingstoke train arrived and I headed off for Farnborough with the rest of the confused people wanting to be on my line.
Farnborough is only two stops from Woking so it wasn’t a long train journey and the bus wasn’t too bad, though it did go a bit cross country at one stage. Then I made a stupid decision.
I was feeling very tired and, subsequently, very lazy so, as the bus pulled into the Aldershot railway forecourt, I decided to get off and catch a bus home. The thing is, the bus drops me at the bottom of the street whereas the station is a good half hour walk.
It was a very stupid decision. Being a Sunday, buses only appear every two hours, if you’re lucky. I sat on the low brick wall for nearly an hour, waiting and reading.
Eventually I walked into the house at 2pm (12 hours since waking up) feeling exhausted. I rang mum and dad, letting them know what was going on and then collapsed in front of the snooker for the rest of the day. I may have drifted in and out of consciousness during a lot of the thrilling safety play.
All the travel today meant I finished the book I’ve been reading about the incredible Samuel Foote. An amazing life, terribly reminiscent of Oscar Wilde but 100 years earlier.
The flowers are for Mirinda. She’ll miss seeing the garden. Hopefully this will help a little bit. I miss her already.