I’ve probably already stated on multiple occasions that I hate travelling, especially with any sort of bag in tow, and that I would much rather that a portal system was invented, or that I was Harry Potter and could take the floo network everywhere instead. Alas I am a muggle. Today only made me wish, all the more, that I really was a wizard.
I took the train to get back to Reading thinking all would be normal. I took a seat, settled down with a copy of ‘Insurgent’ and was daydreaming about laying down in bed (because for some reason sitting on a train for four hours is really tiring). I fell asleep, my daydreams perhaps being too vivid for me to keep my eyes open, and awoke just as the train was pulling up to King’s Cross. All was normal. I had a quick peruse in Oliver Bonas. Everything was fine.
Oh but I needed the loo and found it best to find the nearest public toilets rather than waiting for the train or risking that the ones in Paddington would be closed. I faffed about with getting change (London takes the term “spending a penny” a bit too literally as I had to pay thirty of them) and did what I needed to do, no detailed explanation needed. If only I could have stood in the cubicle and flushed my way home like they do in The Deathly Hallows.
I got on the tube thinking, still, that everything would be normal. I got on the Circle Line via Paddington- the one I usually get- and nothing was out of the ordinary. All the stops along the way were all the same.
But when I got to Paddington it was a whole different story.
The platform looked different to usual. More brick and it seemed older. The placard on the wall said “Paddington” but I felt like I had somehow got on the Hogwarts express and ended up at platform 9 and 3/4’s. Definitely not fine. Things were different. When I take the same train time and time again I expect the journey to be uniform, I was never prepared for this. Where on Earth was I?
Still I followed the exit thinking it might take me out at the station, but instead I came out onto a street and I was face to face with the Hilton hotel. At least if I got seriously lost there was a place I could probably stay. Panicking at the thought of being lost and the prospect of having to spend a thousand pounds to stay the night in London-even though I have exams tomorrow- I called Ed.
“Help me!” I wailed. “I don’t know where the station is!” It seemed to have disappeared under an invisibility cloak. Ed told me to find staff in the tube station to ask. I did. Londoners would probably be shaking their heads at my stupidity if I had asked them, and I certainly felt stupid when the staff I asked told me it was directly next to the Hilton hotel and all I had to do was cross the road at the traffic light. Luckily the suitcase in tow made me look like I was a tourist and hadn’t been in the area before. Hooray! I was not lost!
But when I got into the station the board were saying that off peak tickets were not being accepted. Drats. If I hadn’t looked in Oliver Bonas, or gone to the loo, or got lost even, I probably could have avoided the peak times. Again, I called Ed.
“I don’t know!” he said. “Go get staff!” So I did. I think I learned today that boyfriends are useless and that staff are perhaps who you should talk to first. I’m glad that I had gone to the loo, though, as the staff told me the next train I could catch with my off-peak ticket was at 19:18 an hour away. A portkey or floo powder would have been nice though.
So I waited for the train and ate a cheeseburger as I did so. I eagerly watched the boards as I waited for it to tell me where to find the train. Platform 8. I rushed and rushed to the platform the second it said in the hope that I would get a seat as I was not in the mood to stand on the journey as I had been standing in the station all hour. I was at the platform even before the train was.
My heart fell when I saw the huge crowd of people also waiting for the train, and saw that there were only three carriages. So, I took a stance dangerously at the edge of the platform and hoped that the door would stop in front of me. AND IT DID! That was the best bit of luck I had all day, and I sat down and claimed my seat before people even had the chance. Finally I could relax.