Having slept for less hours than most people rightly should over the last 5 days, travelled more than most do in as many days, and spent more hours either pleasing others or hard at work, I feel fairly confident, if not deeply uncomfortable, confessing that I’m no longer operating at my prime. All this considered, I navigated my usual airport routine with precision and collectiveness from Prague this morning; I also made it home for long enough to efficiently swap suitcases, take a shower and do it all over again, this time on the Eurostar (no more ear-popping flights for me today then!). It’s here though, that things start to go slightly awry, all rather unwittingly.
I bought myself the obligatory trashy magazine and train drink (French beer instead of my go-to gin in a tin a la sophisticate), with sparkling water, a cheap sandwich, crisps (salt and vinegar, obviously…only to make a crisp sandwich with, of course!), and what I can only hope is a low calorie sweet treat. I fear that the sparkling water may be the only inoffensive thing about ensuing events:
- Contrary to what the slightly rounded silver-haired and bespectacled older fellow opposite me may think, the reason I took all the crusts off my cardboard sandwich was not because I’m a pre-pubescent child incapable of digesting roughage, but because I have recently lost 22lbs in a very healthy way and my addled mind is telling me that if this is the only thing I can find to eat, I should at least try to remove half the guilt – crusts seem to be the most likely to get the chop in this scenario!
- Perhaps I shouldn’t have inserted a fist full of crisps into my now crustless sandwich, but I guess if you’re going to do something wrong, you may as well do it right, no?!
- As I sup my beer though, the bubbles made me burp. Not just any burp, but an almighty belch that I think may have started to tip my tutting train neighbour over the edge.
- I may think that flatulence of all kinds is one of the funniest things on the planet, but it would seem that not all agree, so apologise I do and a disdainful grunt I receive from thy neighbour, who I’m pretty certain is now beginning to judge me beyond what would normally be considered reasonable from a fellow cross-channel commuter.
- The trashy magazine I brought with me is not helping my cause here, by the way.
- Note that one can still be intelligent, sane and/or successful while also enjoying the vacuous delights of bottom-feeding celebrity gossip from time to time, just saying!
- I had a very engaging book in my bag, by the way (Panama Papers, if you’re wondering)
- But wait…
- Just about to take another satisfying gulp of my beer and it topples over, naturally in my direction, spilling all over not just me, but saturating the trash mag too *gasp*
- During my last travel rotation, I cleared my bag out of all old tissues or napkins (indeed, anything remotely absorbent), so while I now have delightfully pristine hand luggage, I also have nothing to help mop up the spillage, except maybe my despairing neighbour…
- When he looks up from his laptop, I thought for a moment, he was reaching for his hankie to help, but instead he calmly announces that it’s “…just not my day, is it.”
- Off I trot then, squelching my way to the crummy train toilets with my tail in between my soggy legs.
- Have you ever stood in a train toilet trying to wash beer off your crotch with water dribbling from a tap that’s operated by a foot pump?! I took them off…
- Have you ever stood in your pants with your jeans and vest in a train toilet sink, trying to get beer stains out? Well, I now have…
- Hot and bothered from drying my clothing under a microscopic and distinctly ineffective hand dryer, I drag my garments back on, trying to ignore the lingering beer smell permeating from me.
- There’s a queue outside the toilet. I can only apologise, but now I smell like I’m drunk, so what’s a girl to do?!
- With a relaxed, witty sense of articulated self-deprecation, I greeted my aloof train neighbour with the bashful acknowledgement that none of this had been my most dignified or fortunate of experiences.
- Response: A big fat TUT
- The end
So, now I smell like beer, I have trapped wind from holding in all the other burps that may well have been unexpectedly explosive; I can no longer separate the sticky pages of my beer-stained trash mag, my leftover crusts are sat in a pool of residual beer that I can’t mop up because I still don’t have anything absorbent and I can’t see a bin anywhere. I’ve probably gained an unwanted 1lb with the crustless crisp sandwich, and my grumpy train neighbour is doing everything he can to avoid eye contact.