On Friday it was my birthday. I was old.
Nevertheless it was decided that we would venture from the building, go somewhere else and return in celebration. A little bottle of something fizzy was put in the fridge in case the day went tits up. It was replaced upon our eventual safe return by a big bottle of something fizzy by the OH who has little truck, almost a Dinky toy, with small bottles of anything, and was, under the circumstances, justified.
We went to the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham, which, you will know, if you are a regular here (pull up a chair, old pal) is a favourite day out. It is, theoretically, an easy journey from our lovely home and seat of all our decorating failures, being but three or four train stops away on one line, going North, so easy a pigeon could manage it. In fact they do. We saw them at the station here and also in Birmingham. So, expanding my theory here and here (pointing) it should be easy, very very easy for two adult people with 142 years of experience between them not to stuff it up.
You think? (Well you probably do, we didn’t, well he didn’t, I did but failed to mention it and thereby hangs this tale.)
By getting up variously at the unknown hour of seven A.M and quarter to eight, we made it to the station in a car by quarter past nine and duly booked, paid and ticketed, boarded the train which announced its destination as Birmingham Jewellery Quarter (yes, so easy it even has its own railway station) after stopping at three other places. We got in, we travelled, we arrived, we alighted, minding the big step, we went up in the lift, we emerged in the jewellery quarter, we shopped, we coffeed, we walked up and down the two main streets, I looked, I talked to many craftspeople (just like miniaturists but only making one thing in a vast number of specialities) we dined (back at the coffee place who gave me a free birthday cup of tea) we walked, I shopped, I bought. We popped into the Bullring to Selfridges to get a ceiling light but failing as they had stopped stocking electrical items four years ago, so I bought toys for the grandchildren.
So far, so perfectly competent.
Upon our return at three thirty to the station, the OH consulted his mobile phone because he has an app.
When the planet crashes it will be because somebody had an app.
Hence to platform 2, yes 2. I had misgivings.
In the course of our marriage I had one child and countless ’undreds of misgivings. Oh yes. For lo, I said to myself, looking up and down the platform (2 it was platform 2) is this not the Northbound line, when we are wishing to go South? I would have questioned the OH but he had gone to the gents. Instead I assisted a young lady with a pushchair and a baby, wishing to get to platform 1. I advised her it was just round this corner, up in the lift, over the bridge, down in the lift and there you are, opposite. There, indeed she was and, mission successfully accomplished, we exchanged a victory wave just before she boarded the train upon which we should have been, as I informed the OH, returned, relieved, as our train pulled out of the station.
He fired up his phone and consulted the app.
That, he announced, was our train.
We went round the corner and looked at the board. It had changed, he said. Well, you know, they do that all the time. They very much live in the moment, do station arrival boards. Once it’s gone, they don’t even mention it. Not even to gloat that you were on the wrong platform, idiot passenger.
He consulted the app. A train going in the right direction was available on platform three. Three? I thought there were only two.
Three was round the corner, round another corner and there you are.
There you are nothing, empty. Deserted. Daisies. A cough drop wrapper.
A voice announced ‘The train now leaving from platform 1 is your train, Jane, and you’ve missed it.’
The OH consulted his app. He vouchsafed the information, imparted by his app, that we had just missed our train.
Hiding in the ticket office was the station manager and Darren. I suggested to the OH that we talk to actual people. People who worked there. People in the know. Informed. Professional.
The station manager got out her mobile. She had an app. A different app.
She consulted Darren. ‘There was one on three, wasn’t there, Darren?’
‘It was there about twenty minutes. Almost empty, wasn’t it Darren?’
‘Twenty minutes stood there.’
‘Yeah. It was.’
I interjected (I was becoming irritated, a bit.) As I requested information Zarathustra perked up again to tell us the train departing from platform 1 was another one I’d missed.
The OH and the station master were both surprised. They need better apps, in my opinion.
So what we did was, first I went to the toilet, the toilets being off platform 2. Then we went up in the lift, over the bridge and down the stairs, the OH attempting to mollify me by telling me you use more calories going downstairs than up and not a lot of people know that, happy birthday.
Half an hour later, an hour after we had arrived at the station we boarded the correct train and, after a few stops, alighted, after I had woken the OH who would happily have slept to St Pancras.
Then we went home where he swapped the Dinky bottle for the big one.
After the usual fight the film we watched was a comedy: The hundred foot journey, starring Helen Mirren speaking ‘Allo Allo’ but nevertheless entertaining.
There is a saying which says in its wisdom it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
This is a lie, or, possibly, an app.