Monday, 20 December 2010

The Journey's Shit, It's the Destination That Counts... 2

On Saturday morning I couldn’t get out of bed, it didn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary was going to happen. I eventually dragged myself up, checked I had my passport and put three outfits on one on top of the other, because I didn’t know what to wear and it was freezing. It was snowing. I had a bad feeling about the Eurostar.

At the metro stop, I couldn’t get on because the machine that takes notes was broken, so I walked around in the snow looking for the mythical ‘other entrance’ they always tell me about, getting more and more irate until I eventually gave up, went back to the metro station and bought a soggy, microwaved pain au chocolat from the disgusting food counter just to get change. As I was buying my ticket they announced that the other machine was working, so that was my first bit of travel grief.

On the metro from mine I listened to some nineties dance music and the first wave of excitement came over me. I imagined being in a grotty car pack in the early hours, dancing to this:

I got off the metro at Chatelet which is the Most Hated Metro Station Full Stop, because it is so fucking big and grimy. I walked around for ten minutes and ended up on the platform I had just got off at. After another five minutes I ended up walking up a very long staircase that was devoid of life until I reached the top and found a group of about fifteen Eastern European men bellowing and playing accordions.

I eventually found the right platform for the RER but they announced in French something that made everyone groan and walk away from the platform, so I followed everyone for another ten minutes until we were at a different RER platform. I asked everyone around me for help but it was the first time that I been in Paris and strangers haven’t tried to speak English to me, so when I got on the RER I had no idea where it was going. Luckily, it went in the right direction.

I stopped off at Lauren’s because she was going to get the Eurostar too and there’s a print shop near her house- I needed to print off my Eurostar tickets and my ticket for Soul Clap which is where we were going after Deadmau5. Unfortunately, when I checked my emails, it was all in French and it wouldn’t let me print my train tickets off, so I just printed off my ticket for Soul Clap and prayed that I wasn’t being a complete idiot trying to do this secret trip, in the snow, with no tickets, so close to Christmas.

At Gare du Nord, me and Lauren separated because her train was before mine. Three other people we know were also on the same train and I couldn’t help wondering if I should have booked the earlier Eurostar. Mine was supposed to get in at half five, which would give me and Kat just enough time to get to her 'friend' Ricky’s house (who we met in Ibiza) to drop our stuff off and then set off for Earl’s Court to see Deadmau5.

I found out that all Eurostars were taking an extra hour because of the snow, so that was me late for Deadmau5 already. Then I heard that more people were buying tickets for Eurostar because loads of flights were being cancelled. I had a horrible feeling that tomorrow I wouldn’t be able to get back.

When they eventually said we could board the train, I felt like I was doing the wrong thing. A little voice said in my head: ‘There’s no going back now, what are you doing?? Why do you think you can pull this off, you who can’t even make pumpkin soup?? You will fuck up Christmas for that family and you will have to ring them and explain that you are in England and after they get over the initial shock of discovering you have left the country, they will have to learn that their ‘childcare’ is stuck in London and isn’t coming back.

But I got on the train because… because how shit would I feel if I just fucked the whole thing off? How many promises broken and how much money wasted and much dancing left undanced?

As the train got into the French countryside, the riskiness of the situation hit me. Alright, I wasn’t escaping from a prisoner of war camp, but the snow was so thick outside you couldn’t tell where the snowy fields ended and the white sky began. I was supposed to be resting in Paris, conserving my energy for my four 11 hr days of work, thinking of inspiring activities to do with the children. Instead I was going to London for some ravey times and I wasn’t sure if I’d make it back.

I realise this doesn’t sound very dramatic but I was So. Scared. I was bouncing around in my seat, shitting it. I was already an hour late, but I had no credit on either of my phones and then Kat text me saying she couldn’t meet me at St Pancras, all her mates couldn’t make it because the snow was so bad in England and that she’d have to meet me at Earl’s Court.

The Tube scares me, so that text made me feel all anxious and terrified. What if Kat didn’t make it? What if I couldn’t find Earl’s Court? I only had thirty Euros on me and my credit card was blocked. But then I breathed. What was the worst thing that could happen? I would be stuck at St Pancras, I would find somewhere to change my euros and I would buy lots of tea and crisps and I would get the Eurostar straight back the next day and I would write about it on my blog and tell my friends about it and they’d laugh and I’d feel a bit better.

And that was the worst case scenario anyway, it was much more likely that I’d get to London, sort the tube out and meet them all at Earl’s Court, just in time for the main event. I could almost see his mouse-eared silhouette against a screen of lights and I was looking at him from a crowd of happy, lairy English people. For the first time I could envision myself being there…

Then the train stopped. The lights went out. They announced that we were stranded in Calais because the electricity had gone and they didn’t know how long it would take to sort out. I could see that big round mouse head flashing and bobbing about before me, fading into the distance, being swallowed by a white fog of dry ice, or was it the fucking snow?

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