After lunch with Sandra and a cheeky glass of bubbles on that fateful Wednesday, in the middle of my retelling the moment when Frannie’s wheelchair-bound father finds out about his wife’s 6-month affair with her fitness instructor, really, at her age of 68 and a fourth grandchild on the way. My useless excuse for a husband, Andrew calls me as the bill arrived at the table by that handsome waiter, Georgi, to say he insists on taking the car to Glyndebourne to retrieve his Mother’s antique terrine serving dish. Why he just couldn’t send Botley, our Driver, is madness?
The picnic at Glyndebourne was a magical day with a ramble around the pond and of course the Lyndsey’s were there. He’s a bit of a catch, she always looks like a maternity nurse and how his brother expects to turn heads when in those ghastly green trousers, who is he trying to fool. Green is never fashionable, even if he is a merchant banker and owns a yacht in the Canary Islands, or wherever it is. Bloody pretentious if you ask me.
Of course, my Andrew doesn’t consider my transportation needs and doesn’t ask how I’ll fare with getting home. ‘Take a taxi’, he says. A taxi? Outrageous. Only last year a taxi driver was arrested for drugging and doing unspeakable things to innocent women. Does he not consider my welfare or safety? That’s why we have our Driver. And how on earth do I carry my bags. It’s Wednesday, he should know better. Only because I wouldn’t trip down to Savile Row to collect his shoes, he has one of his tantrums.
Then he has the audacity to suggest, ‘If you don’t like a taxi, take the train, darling.’ The outrage, finishing a sentence with the word, darling, doesn’t excuse him to exclude me. Train! A train. A public convenience and on a Wednesday. I have to ask myself, has he lost all his faculties.
When I thought my nightmare hadn’t concluded, Sandra says, with a spinach leaf sticking out from between her teeth opens her mouth and declares her newly found affection for first class train travel. With that leafy-green smile she upstages me with her rendition of her first class public convenience exploits. Of all people I lunch with, never in my days would I suspect Sandra as a public convenience woman. Her husband owns horses in Buckinghamshire. I felt forced upon, by Andrew and Sandra. I could hear that tone of defiance in his voice when attempting to convince me, ‘I’ll be fine’. And then Sandra’s slapdash comment, ‘I’ll show you’.
Is there no justice.
Before I knew it, Sandra had paid for lunch and Andrew had won the battle. Little did he realise, the war was not over. And there I was walking onto the concourse of the train station to purchase a ticket and find my train.
I grappled with my bags whilst Sandra asked the lovely lady behind the bulletproof glass for a ticket. First class, I demanded. I wanted to make sure she purchased the most expensive ticket, I love to watch Andrew frown. After some to-do, the bright orange cards were pushed through the metal grill and into Sandra’s hands.
The crowds are outrageous. Worse than a mid-year sale at Harrods. I don’t do, that, anymore, not since that coffee cup incident. Joan, our dry cleaner, has never been able to get rid of that stain. Such a waste of teal moroccan wool.
Once you step over the homeless, their snarling dogs and cardboard, make your way through the crowds and their snippy children, it’s then a battle with the platform barrier.
Sandra used the tickets to make the barrier open, she huddled me through with my bags and as the barrier closed, Sandra was waving, throwing air kisses and vigorously pointed at my train as she made her escape. I’ll tell her, next time, what I think of her air kissing escape.
Eventually, I found my train carriage. The subtly named carriage with First Class labelled above the window wasn’t easy to locate. I can’t see why the windows can’t be washed. It supposed to be First Class.
There was no one at the door to greet me, this clearly was a sign of the nightmare to come. I should’ve known it was going to go wrong, but Andrew can’t be told. I found a tissue to press the buttons, and after a long delay, a dreadful cacophony pierced the air as the doors opened.
Once on board, a second closed door greeted me and again I used the tissue to press the button.
And finally, leather seats greeted me with a dull sigh of exhaustion. I discovered a discarded newspaper on my allotted seat. Of course there was. So I sat in an empty seat nearby to await a cleaning crew to sanitise my seat.
I had to endure the common class passengers using this public convenience to meander through First Class to access other carriages. Don’t they realise I’m in First Class. As the train travelled through my stop and rattled on its merry way, I could only mutter expletives until we came to a stop at a station I’ve never heard of and doesn’t look like the one at home.
Eventually I found the train guard on the platform, why he wasn’t attending to his First Class passengers is beyond comprehension. He told me I was on the wrong train. Surely they knew I was on that train, I had a printed ticket. They could’ve stopped.
He reassured me the next train would stop at my destination. Begrudgingly, I found First Class, sat down and thought of monstrous pain to inflict on Andrew and Sandra.
The silver lining in this nightmare, the lady with the drinks trolley stopped by. Even though I had to pay extra for a gin and tonic, I was too exhausted to press the point of being in First Class. She served them in pretty painted drink cans, so I purchased two and enjoyed a sneaky drink.
To calm my nerves.