Bernard has caught the wrong train. Instead of heading north – as both he and his ticket intended – he’s currently en route to the south-west, in the general direction of Cornwall. Short of a catastrophic, convenient and, let’s not fool ourselves, highly unlikely movement in the earth’s tectonic plates – one that shifts either us or him in the right direction – he won’t be here in time for tea.
Bernard doesn’t own a mobile phone, but prevailed upon a lady in the seat behind to lend him hers.
I took the call, and quickly wished I hadn’t. With all the attendant noise of a high-speed carriage and children in the background, I struggled with the fact that a perfect stranger had rung to tell me – three times in a row – that he was ‘on the game’. I was about to put the phone down when I belatedly realised it was Bernard; and that he had embarked not on a new career but simply in the wrong direction.
Cut a long story short, he’d had a couple of drinks, then nodded off in first class. The ticket collector must have taken one look and decided to leave well alone. Result: the silly old fool was just a few miles from Penzance before he realised what had happened.
It seems there’s no train back today, so he’ll stay the night and travel up first thing tomorrow.
Mrs C is beside herself, and blames Norma who, she insists, must have left him on the wrong platform. Apparently, Mrs F dropped him off, couldn’t find anywhere to park, so wished him well, put her foot down and was gone in a puff of smoke. And who, I felt, could blame her?
It means I can at least enjoy the opening ceremony of the London Olympics – without our man falling asleep and snoring through all the good bits.
I’m off now, but, before I do, here’s another photograph I’ve just found. I don’t know who thinks them up:
Thought for the Day
‘Most foreign tourists know that in London they are encouraged to take a piece of fruit, free of charge, from any open-air stall or display.’
Michael Lipton (‘Unhelpful Advice for Foreign Tourists’)