The curious incident of the ticket barrier in the afternoon

p10 pic

p10 pic - Credit: Archant

Wanted: responsible escorts to accompany middle-aged couple on weekend London adventure.

When our children were young, we were the grown-ups; the adults in charge. Now we need some of our own.

It was my husband’s birthday and we had booked into a hotel near St Paul’s Cathedral where, as it turned out, the Invictus Games athletes were staying. The event, supported by Prince Harry, is a sports contest for men and women injured in the course of their military service. It was the first time I have stood at a toast-making machine alongside two gold medal winners... it was also the first time I have been at a breakfast bar against which someone had parked a prosthetic leg.

A few years back we had a holiday in a Maltese hotel where the finalists in the World’s Strongest Man competition were staying. It seems to be my lot to be often surrounded by super-fit people. I wonder if it’s a sign I should stop listing reading, eating and watching telly as my favourite pastimes and be a bit more active... naw, we did walk from Liverpool Street, after all.

Anyhow, our room (suite they called it) was in an annexe down the street from the main hotel. I think I looked like a trouble maker. The room was lovely and, first things first, my husband immediately inspected the en-suite facilities. In this case there was a large shower cubicle with a choice of showers, one overhead, one at buttock height (assuming you’re 5’ 5’’ like me) and a hand-held option. I was very excited.

Then, as I was unpacking my eight pairs of pants (we were there for two nights) my husband called me back to the shower room.

“Look at this,” he said, frowning, and demonstrated that when the shower door was pulled open it collided with the lavatory bowl. It left only a six inch gap and, to gain access, you would have had to climb over the toilet and slide in... always assuming six inches would be sufficient.

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“That’s weird. This must be a brand new room that no one has ever used before,” I mooted.

“Am I doing something wrong here?” asked my husband, rhetorically.

I returned to my unpacking. Six pairs of socks, check.

“Lynne, come here a minute,” called my husband who was still in the bathroom.

“Look,” he said triumphantly, showing me that the shower door, in fact, opened inwards allowing full and easy ingress, however big one’s bum.

We laughed and headed out to the British Museum. On the way we stopped off at a branch of a well-known chemist. I’d forgotten my make-up removers (yes, thank you, I know you don’t need a chemist for paint stripper). I picked up three for the price of mywo and went to the self service till where I formed a queue behind a chap who was using the check out.

I stood there for a minute or two until my husband grasped me gently by the wrist and, pulling me towards him, explained that I was standing in a queue at the photo-printing machine.

The rest of the weekend passed without mishap. We even managed to get to Belsize Park using the Northern Line replacement bus service.

On Sunday we walked back to Liverpool Street with our overnight cases.

Our train was leaving from platform 10 and I inserted my return ticket into the machine and began to walk through the barrier which promptly closed, trapping me in its unyielding clutches.

So there I was, my case on Platform 10, my body stuck in the barrier, my derriere on the station concourse. I have to say, there was a distinct lack of sympathy from those around me. Those who weren’t laughing seemed to think I was deliberately blocking their way.

“You’ll have to go backwards,” instructed the guard, helpfully miming how I should accomplish this manoeuvre.

I eventually managed to escape and ruefully re-entered the barrier, this time managing to get through. I was so traumatised, we blew £14 and upgraded to first class.