Sunday, 1 July 2012

Be prepared and no long goodbyes

I took my bike to Leeds. I was going to celebrate the christening of baby Emily whose Dad, Andy I have known since our days in Labour students. And take the opportunity to stay with my old friend Gail and her two boys.

I learned two lessons.

I took my bike. Why? Because these days I take my bike. It just seems like the thing to do. You take your bike you have adventures. It just happens like that.

On the way there I had failed to prepare 'then prepare to fail' - as was repeated several times at school this week. I was not aware that I needed a reservation for the Kona. Fortunately I'd arrived in good time - or so I thought.

I was already at platform 2 because I'd chatted to the nice man at the ticket barriers who told me in advance. Result. I walked the whole length of the platform and was then told I was the wrong end of the train. So I walked to the other end only to be told by Mr Officious I needed a reservation. 'What can I do?' I pleaded. He suggested I go to the ticket office.

Challenge Aneka. I jogged with bike with 10 minutes to spare. I jumped the queue explaining to everyone and probably looking a bit mad why I believed this was justified. Everyone was very British so said nothing. Go the Brits. The man at the desk told me there were no spaces available for my bike. Agh. 'What can I do?' (enforced empathy) He took pity and wrote me out a reservation. I sped back to the train, my friend the ticket barrier man quickly opened the gates.

Mr Officious looked quite shocked. I showed him my blue ticket - like Jason I had got the golden fleece. 'Sorry. We are full. I have taken my quota of 5 bikes. How did you get this?' I did my best are-you-flipping-joking-me-turbot face aware that any anger would get my bike nowhere near his carriage. Again I asked 'What can I do?' and looked very upset. I offered to take the bike apart - which given i had no tools was a bold promise. Anything to get on the train.

And then he appeared -with a beard like Santa and the kindness of Jesus. They had a quiet chat and then, with 3 minutes before the train departed, Mr Officious changed his mind. He said one of the bikes was off at Grantham so he could squeeze it on. Inside there was enough room for a one bedroom London flat and certainly plenty of room for my bike. Mr Officious pointed out that he hadn't been being awkward it was just the rules. 'I was only following orders'. I told him not to worry and said I was only pleased to be on the train and that i would make sure that had a reservation in future. I hoped that my thankfulness would encourage him to bend the rules in future.

* * *
So lesson one was being prepared and arrive early for trains and planes.

Lesson two - I have also worked out I really do not like goodbyes. I prefer the false promise of a see you soon rather than a full on - see you in over a year. Every weekend seems to have a lot of these at the moment. I keep having to rush out doors so there are no protracted tears. Going away for a year really does focus the mind on the value of people to your happiness even if you regularly go 6 months without seeing some of those people. I've always thought about goodbyes that they are a fuss about the wrong bit. It is the bit in the middle that counts. Not the end. You can never say the right thing.There is only one other time in my life when I have left my network when I moved to London for university. That was tough. Going from everyone to no one. I've made sure I haven't done it since. So I do feel quite brave and I am a bit more of a grown up now and I have got a cycling buddy to chivvy me along.

4 weeks to go ....

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