Everything seemed to be going swimmingly at first. I got to the airport in good time, checked in and then over to Costa’s for a coffee. I got to the desk at 6.45 just as they were announcing boarding and was in my seat and buckled in just before. “Great,” I thought, “Looks like we’re more or less on time. Wrong.
The driver announced that because of freezing fog and work going on to repair the apron, traffic was very heavy and the flight was to be delayed by half-an-hour. Thirty minutes ticked by only for us to be told that we had another 45 minutes to wait. We finally left the ground at nine two bum-numbing hours late.
To make matters worse, there was only one steward on board so while he dished out bacon or cheese croissants, there was nothing to drink and a lot of people were forced to fly dry for three hours.
But that wasn’t the end of it. One of my colleagues suggested that we get a cab and I should have agreed, but showing off my local knowledge, I said we should use the Docklands Light Railway that opened last week. “It’s only one stop,” I said, having been assured by someone I thought was in the know that there was a bridge from Pontoon Dock Station across to the ExCeL Centre where we were headed.
As we headed for the ticket machines we were stopped by a bloke in a hi-vis DLR who told us there were no trains to Bank because a points problem at Canning Town. Typical. Open a week and they’ve broke the bloody thing already. However, there were trains acting as a shuttle service so we hopped on and hopped off again at Pontoon Dock.
Despite being in the capital, it felt like the middle of nowhere with a cold wind whistling round our nethers on the high-rise platform. We could see the ExCeL Centre away in the middle-distance, but no bloody bridge. Presumably my colleague had mistakenly thought that that was where the Royal Victoria Dock Bridge took you.
We were wondering what to do next when the platform tannoy announced that the points at Canning Town had been fixed and that trains were now running, so we decided to catch the next one and go the long way round. We boarded 15 minutes later only for the announcer to tell us that they’d broken the bloody points again.
To cut a long and boring story short, we ended up hailing a cab arriving at the event well over two hours later than anticipated. The consolation was that a colleague who had taken the train was even later than we were.
It was one of those entertaining, passionate and profound speeches that makes perfect sense while you’re listening only for the rationale to evaporate after the event. As in, “What was all that about?” like the story of the reason.
If I die, survive me with such a pure force
you make the pallor and the coldness rage;
flash your indelible eyes from south to south,
from sun to sun, till your mouth sings like a guitar.
I don’t want your laugh or your footsteps to waver;
I don’t want my legacy of happiness to die;
don’t call to my breast: I’m not there.
Live in my absence as in a house.
Absence is such a large house
that you’ll walk through the walls,
hang pictures in sheer air.
Absence is such a transparent house
that even being dead I will see you there,
and if you suffer, Love, I’ll die a second time.