The deadliest, jelliest site ever. Brought to you by Niamh Shaw

Posts tagged ‘train’

Train please, God

I called my cousin Michelle, and arranged to meet her at Green Park.

“You’re dragging Michelle and her baby in to the center of London?” said Róisín in disbelief.

“What are you on about? She’s used to it.”

By the time Róisín had finished with me I called Michelle in a torment of guilty anguish, and accepted her invitation to lunch at her home in Northfield.

Michelle still doesn’t look a day over fifteen; her two year old, Cormac, is already twice her density.

A couple of weeks ago, Michelle took Cormac blackberry picking. Cormac is a big fan of lorries, trucks, trains and anything that produces large quantities of carbon monoxide or, preferably, cement. So you can imagine his excitement when a train chuffed by beside the field.

Upon his strident demands for ‘nother!, Michelle advised him to pray to God to send a train his way. And so, her three year-old spent possibly the most passive two hours of his short life, sitting on a dried cowpat with his hands pressed together, intoning: “Train please, God. Amen.”

After two hours, Cormac started to get tearful, whereupon Michelle apprehended a passerby and desperately asked when the next train was due. Turned out there was only one a day.

“I can’t believe God couldn’t have sent the little fella a train,” muttered Michelle darkly.

With such promising capacity for pure evil, it may be hard to believe Michelle worships and praises the Lord on a regular basis. But indeed she does, and is otherwise a lovely, wonderful woman.

Long after lunch was over and Michelle and I had talked ourselves hoarse, Michelle asked if I would like a tour of their new house.

“I’d love to-“

“You can go to the bathroom,” she said.

“Oh. Er, do I have to?”

“Well, you want to, don’t you?”

“Actually, yes,” I said, surprised. “How did you know?”

“These days, I can sense these things.”


I’m not sure whether her newfound ability is similar to bowel-whispering, or more psychic and applicable to horse racing and blackjack.

“Poo poo?” enquired Cormac.

“No, wee wees,” responded Michelle. “That’s right, isn’t it?”

“Yes. But if you don’t mind, I’d like to keep my options open.”

Learning from past mistakes

Previously, my average public transport success rate was inching up to around 80%, but it took a bit of a knock on the Irish trip. Of course, there was the disaster at Stansted when I missed my flight to Ireland after standing in the wrong queue for an hour.  

Then I caught the wrong train to Dublin, where I was admittedly over-confident. After all, trains are much easier than airplanes. There’s less mucking about: no check-in, no baggage check, no cavity search. Often, you don’t even need a passport, which considerably reduces my potential margin for error.


And of course, I had LEARNED from past mistakes.  


Unfortunately, not enough . . . because we come to my return flight to Dubai. Again – and I appreciate that you might find this hard to believe given the incidents above – there was a surfeit of confidence happening. After all, I was equipped with a library of Hard Lessons, including:-

(1) Make sure you double-check the flight date/time, preferably prior to the flight;

(2) A driving licence is not accepted as a substitute for a passport;

(3) Get to the airport before the flight;

(4) Stand in the right queue; and/or

(5) Read the ticket;

(6) Bring the ticket;

(7) And don’t leave it in a phone booth;

(8) Or anywhere else (I haven’t actually LEARNED this; it falls more under the category ‘Near Misses’)

(9) Make sure your residency visa hasn’t expired

In fact, I figured the only lesson left is to ensure I have a visa for countries requiring one, and there’s plenty of time for that one.

That morning, I was up at 06:45hrs, packed some final bits and pieces and bade farewell to Róisín’s boyfriend, whose flat we were staying in. It was around about then that I checked my bag for passport presence and . . . it wasn’t there. You might say the presence was poor to non-existent.

Hard Lesson #10: relative proximity of passport. (Ok, so I actually learned that on a business trip, but it was over 10 years ago so it was about time for a refresher course.)

We guessed that the most likely location of the passport was Róisín’s flat, at which point I spent five minutes running around in circles screaming, which gave Róisín an opportunity to waterproof her new Ugg Boots. Seriously. I was wearing a hole in Tim’s welcome mat, going: ‘We might be able to make it to the airport via your house in time if we leave now, I mean NOW in the immediate sense of the word,’ while Róisín sprayed her Ugg Boots: ‘Just a second, I need to do the heel’.

Then we exited the door at a gallop. Róisín’s sense of time is rather Irish; she was confident we’d make the trip from Clapham South to Walthamstow Central in twenty minutes, including a stop-off for coffee.

An hour and 3 litres of cold sweat later, we arrived at Walthamstow Central and charged a taxi.

“You forgot your passport?” said our driver, slapping the steering wheel. “That’s a joke. Ha ha! Very funny.”

“You know, firstly,” I said, chillingly, “I’m not finding it all that funny, joke-wise. Secondly, I think it’s technically more a cliché than a joke.”

“Why didn’t you check your bag before you left the house?” enquired our driver.

“Good question,” said Róisín. “Niamh?”

“You should always check your bag before leaving the house,” advised our driver.

“Thanks for the tip,” I said. “<mutter: Don’t count on getting one yourself>”

“Once I picked up a woman. She was all excited. Going on holiday, you know? I brought her all the way to Heathrow. Then remembered she left her passport at home. I had to drive her back.”

“And?” said Róisín, ever idealistically yearning for the happy ending.

“She missed her flight.”

My passport was on Róisín’s living room sofa underneath a duvet.

On our way back to Walthamstow Central, Róisín rang Tim, who had checked the Emirates flights from London and established that there were seats free on the 14:15 flight. I am strongly encouraging Róisín to marry the man. One second after it opened, I rang the Emirates Service Desk and booked myself onto the afternoon flight.

Róisín didn’t slag me off once. Either the woman can’t recognise an opportunity, or she’s a saint.

The following text exchange with Andrew reminds me why I am blessed to be with him:- 

Me: Missed flight 😦


Andrew: Bugger. What happened? 


Me: Which would you believe? (a) The flight was cancelled (b) A flock of rogue sheep took over Heathrow (c) The wing fell off the airplane (d) I forgot my passport 


Andrew: Those dam sheep 🙂

I like to think Husband was so thrilled to see me he didn’t mind my arriving at 01:00hrs

Tag Cloud