Monday 28 December 2009

Train of thought

Or trains and thinking, at any rate. I really want to wring my hands and intone "Woe is me!" in a doleful voice, and for Woe you may read Idiot.

Yesterday I had everything ready for sister Anne and her husband John's arrival. I even despatched the Lovely Son to meet them from the train, although I wasn't sure which train they were on (long complicated story of unfindable emails due to their recent change of ISP and quirky increase in number of email addresses). Two were strong possibles, only five minutes apart. The East Coast website told me that both were due in on time.

But Anne and John weren't on either, and the Lovely Son, who'd had a difficult time finding anywhere to park, found that many trains were in fact delayed, despite what the website told us. He came home, and we texted and emailed to A & J, receiving no response. New Christmas Phone Syndrome, we thought, slightly exasperated. The website told us that one train would be an hour late. One! What about all the trains queuing behind it? By now, we were prepared to disbelieve anything.

But surely, we muttered, they would have the sense to take a taxi from the station if we weren't able to contact them or obtain accurate arrival time information? So the dog sat at the window, on full alert, primed to watch for Anne, but no one arrived. Taxis came and went - amazing how many taxis drive past when you're looking out for them - but none bearing cross-looking Scottish people laden with gifts.

Horrible thoughts smote me, and I rang their home number, to be answered by a cheery voice, clearly not at all bothered by train delays, switched-off phones, emails not picked up on Blackberries. There was a moment of horror as my sister almost believed that they'd forgotten to pack, leave the house, catch their train and visit her only sister. And then John asserted himself in the background: it was tomorrow they were coming. It had always been tomorrow. "We texted you and rang you! Your phone wasn't switched on!" I said. ""That's because I'm at home." said Anne, gently, not sounding as outraged as she might, given the quite irrational, slightly-blaming nature of my call to her.

I had a little feeble weep to myself later, as such demonstrations of my own stupidity always rather upset me, and because like most of us, I'm terrified of early-onset Alzheimer's, and am easily plunged into certainty that I have it already but have forgotten I had. The Lovely Son was surprisingly reassuring, and didn't capitalise on this opportunity to tease. And then I let out my breath, had a cup of tea, rethought the meal plan, checked sell-by dates, and pulled myself together, with a mortifying  trickle of memories coming back to me about knowing a while back that the Lovely Son going home a day earlier than A & J, and doing the maths that would have told me I'd got their arrival date wrong. The sentry dog was stood down, not fully understanding why, when she had been told to watch for Someone coming, no one had, to be barked excitedly at, bounced up and down over, and generally be thrilled by.

And later, the LS decided to go back to London later than planned. What a sweetheart. Perhaps he can see that his dimwitted mother needs a bit of support and the opportunity to empty the fridge too.

So we started all over again today. With an early morning phone call from Anne, standing at Glasgow Central, telling me that their train was stuck due to points failure; later the call came to tell me the train was cancelled. They would walk to Queen Street station and try to get to Edinburgh, and take pot luck from there.

And we wait. I shan't tell the dog yet.


Shelagh said...

I know the mix up was upsetting to you but it looks as if there's going to be a happy ending with the LS staying longer. Now if only the trains are running from Edinburgh. I do hope your sister and brother-in-law are there already and that the dog has finally been able to be Official Greeter. And the rest of you can get down to the serious business of more present opening and lashings of Christmas pud.

judy in ky said...

Oh dear. Things can get so muddled, can't they, with confusing new communication devices. Personally, I think things were simpler without emails and mobile phones. Now you don't know from where to expect a message. I hope all ends well and happy for you, that everyone gets together, the dog gets to greet, and the food all is eaten.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Oh I'm glad this sort of thing doesn't just happen to me !
Looked at another way , you've still got it all to look forward to and meanwhile LS is on hand to help eat the food mountain .
Have a lovely time !!

Fran Hill said...

This will be one of those family tales that comes out again and again when you're all together, and they're great nostalgia. All families need them.

Von said...

Oh poor you!Hope it all turned out beautifully in the end.

Marcheline said...

Actually, I think it's your Lovely Son who should be commended for not losing his temper (unless perhaps he did, which would be understandable) as it was he that was really inconvenienced! Extra single malt whisky for Son, I say. Good man.

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