Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Derailed, In More Ways Than One
Well, yesterday's travels were certainly eventful. Ultimately they were successful, and I'm now in Florida, but there were times I didn't think I was going to make it.
I carefully checked the Transport for London web site before I left home, and saw that there were no tube outages. The trip planner recommended that I go to Victoria Station and take the train down to Gatwick. One hour, it said.
So I left at 8:15 a.m., which should have given me plenty of time to make my 11:30 a.m. flight.
But what the trip planner didn’t say was that there had been a train derailment outside Victoria at 3 a.m., and all the trains were in chaos. All Gatwick Express trains were cancelled, as were many others. People were milling around Victoria by the hundreds, looking uncertain. I wound up having to take one train — which moved at a snail’s pace — down to East Croydon, and then changing to another train for Gatwick. The journey took more than two hours, and I had just enough time to check in, get through security, buy a Starbucks and get to my gate before boarding my plane — which wound up being delayed about half an hour anyway.
As I stood in line next to a duty-free shop while waiting to board, my anxiety slowly ebbing, two American guys — possibly a father and son — were talking behind me. Clearly they had never been in an international airport before.
“Duty Free? Is that the name of the shop? That’s a strange name. What does that mean, Duty Free?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s confusing. It’s like Chick-fil-A. Why’s it called that? What are they filling the chicken with?”
On the plane, I managed to read most of "Lady Chatterley's Lover," which I've long been curious about. It's a remarkably frank book for its day, but of course now it hardly seems scandalous. I didn't realize how much of it was about ecological, social and economic concerns in post-World War I England. There's a lot of that woven in with all the sex. Lawrence was clearly concerned with how we could all live authentic lives in the midst of not only stifling morality, but also soul-sucking industrialization and capitalism.
Finally, after nine-plus hours of flying, my stepsister and her husband picked me up from the airport in Tampa and took me to dinner. We wound up going out afterwards, and we ran into some old co-workers of mine from my years in journalism, with the end result that I am not just jet-lagged but also hung over. I'm not sure how effective I'm going to be today.
My brother sent me this New Yorker cartoon because he always jokes that this is what my blog is like -- me talking about how busy I am doing nothing. Prepare for more of the same!
(Top photo: Plants on my stepmother's porch.)