This has been a rather bitty week, one of those weeks when I have been busy but if you asked what, exactly, I have been doing, I would be stuck for a good answer. The week is due to end with a bang, however, because tomorrow, Tigger is off on a courier run and of course, I am going too. In fact, if only she could be in two places at once, she could have gone on two courier runs at the same time.
We thought we were going to Cambridge. In fact, so certain we were that we were going to Cambridge that this morning I went all by myself like a grownup to St Pancras station and bought my ticket.
Don’t think it was easy, either. The ticket sales staff at St Pancras are usually very good. Their knowledge of routes, prices and tickets – not to mention handling the clunky software – is excellent. I bet I could book a cheap day return to Timbuctu and they would sell me one, just like that.
I did say usually. There is a certain ticket clerk – let me whisper this confidentially in your ear – who is a bit of a lightweight. So every time we queue and see that he is on duty we wince and hope we won’t be assigned to him when our turn comes.
He was there this morning. I desperately counted the customers ahead of me and calculated my odds of avoiding him. All in vain. Fate assigned me to him or, what comes to the same thing, him to me.
Tiger Brightly: I would like a cheap day return to Cambridge for tomorrow but as I don’t yet know which station I am going from please make it “All London Terminals” not a specific station.
Clerk: Cambridge? Oh I can tell you which station it goes from. Clacking on keyboard. Yes, you can get a train from Kings Cross–
Tiger Trying to get a grip on the situation: No, see, I know you can go from Kings Cross and from Liverpool Street and from who knows where else but as I don’t know which station I’m going from I don’t want the ticket to be specific.
Clerk Looks bemused…: Right… So you want to go to Cambridge…
Clerk: When? Tomorrow?
Tiger: Er, yes. Cheap day return.
Clerk: OK. Is that single or return?
Tiger: Return. Cheap day return.
Clerk: And where do you want to go from?
Tiger Through clenched teeth: I don’t know. Make it “London Terminals”.
Clerk: And you want to come back the same day?
Tiger: Arrrgh, I mean, Ah yes.
Clerk: I’ll just look up the time when cheap day tickets become valid… Clackety, clackety, clackety…
Tiger Muttering to self: Nine-thirty…
Clerk In the manner of one giving a tutorial: With this ticket you can travel any time after 9:30…
Tiger Stifles nervous giggle.
Even the credit card payment went wrong. Instead asking for my PIN number, the transaction stopped short and I had to sign instead. But I at least had my ticket. Phew.
I went home for a nice cup of tea. OK, and a bit of a plink on the keyboard – you know me. Ding-a-ling-a-ling went my phone. I have this lovely ding-a-lingy tone for incoming SMS, much nicer than the raucous Nokia default one. It was from Tigger and it said:
We are not going to Cambridge now. We are going to Leicester.
So tonight we went back to St Pancras. We noticed with relief that the lightweight clerk was not there. We got an efficient clerk with a nice smile.
Tiger Brightly: I would like to swap this cheap day return to Cambridge for a cheap day return to Leicester, please.
Clerk: Sorry, can’t be done. There’s an administrative charge of £10 on refunds and as your ticket cost less than £10…
Oh, well. Put it down to experience. In future I will leave the ticket buying to the last minute and not try to be a grownup and buy it early.
As I was writing this, a mortorcycle courier brought us the corpus delicti, aka proposal aka tender to be delivered to the potential client in Leicester. So we are all set and rarin’ to go…