I went to visit my sister today, who at least for a little while is actually living in the same city as me, most of the time it’s not even the same country. She’s back in the country to do another university course. Anyway, although strictly speaking we’re both on the same side of London, that in the scheme of things doesn’t mean much. To get there I had to get a bus, then the tube, where I had to go so far up one line then go backwards onto another branch before changing onto another line altogether. Then when I got to my destination, I had to decipher the map from the university’s web site and find my way to the university. The map was hard to decipher and at one point it, or at least my reading of it, sent me in a complete circle back to the town centre again, although luckily I found my way eventually and I made it to the campus.
Walking through a campus again did nothing for me but make me feel old. It reminded me a bit of one of my old university campus’, except flat (my first university was in Wales). Anyway I had a peek at my sister’s room (halls, eek I couldn’t) and then we went back into town to go shopping. Now my sister is going to university in quite a nice part of London and the shops are quite extensive and nice but I live in one of the best shopping area’s in London, so it was a bit of a damp squib really, however that wasn’t going to stop me buying some books, including an anthology of Shirley Hughes stories for Girl Lacer’s Christmas present (and no I’m not going to go and find the link to it on Amazon, I paid full price for it and it was quite expensive and I don’t want to know how much I could have got it for!). I also brought a couple of the shortlisted Booker prize books, although the winner was understandably sold out. My sister brought a lovely book for Girl Lacer’s birthday about fairies, which will have to be kept firmly out of Boy Lacer’s pop up destroying hands.
The journey back though, mmm, and you think I got lost on the way there? Well, normally I can find my way round any tube line, after all, every station has tube maps of some form or another and it’s normally pretty straight forward anyway. But today, the swapping between different branches of tube line, after an already long day, with my head stuck in a book (that didn’t help) and unusually no tube maps at all at the station I was meant to be interchanging at meant I got lost, sort of. You see I made it through the first interchange fine, not exactly hard when it’s on the same platform but then came the next interchange, the one with the no tube maps at the station. I’d forgotten that I had to keep on going east before I had to go back on myself to join a different branch of the same tube line, so I immediately tried heading west and sat patiently on the platform waiting for my train to come in, but obviously not being on the right branch, it didn’t happen and train after train left. Eventually it twigged and I got the right train east. I got off at the right station and made my way to the next platform to go west again, except I got on the wrong train going down the wrong branch and ended up going back to the very station that I had just spent ages waiting for my non-existent train. So I had to go east again before getting back on the platform I’d been on 10 minutes before to get the right train west again, except train after train going down the wrong branch came and went, at least I didn’t get on it this time, until eventually the right train going down the right branch arrived. It goes to show that even when you’ve lived in a city for 10 years that sometimes it pays to take along a map of your tube system! My problem was that I was working from memory at that station with no maps and my memory was faulty and then at the other station, you know how mistakes pile on mistakes. It felt like ground hog day, permanently arriving at this station, however it did give me an interesting prompt for an interesting ghost story, which I should definitely have a go at writing.
So, after all that I was an hour late and made it only just in time for stories at bedtime. Much as it’s nice having my sister in the same city, not sure I’ll be making too many trips up there, hopefully she’ll come and visit us (so she can at least see the kids, don’t think I’d make my two take that journey).
The irony of all this though, is that when I made the arrangements to go and visit my sister, my sister (and my dad suggested) said she’d meet me at the tube station, however I scorned the idea, saying that I’d lived in this city for 10 years and I can find my way around, ha ha ha.