When The Mom visited me recently, I of course, went to pick her up at the airport. It was Gatwick which I have spent a fair amount of time in before so I felt buoyed by what turned out to be an inflated sense of confidence.
I had arrived into London the evening before, and was a bit rough around the edges when I got up but figured she’d be in a worse state having just got off a transatlantic flight – one where we all knew she wouldn’t have slept a wink.
I thought my journey would be simple enough: Victoria Line down to Victoria Station, then the Gatwick Express and then I’d be at the airport.
I arrived at Victoria and queued for the tickets to and from Gatwick. When I got to the booth the man informed me that the Gatwick Express would only be running out of London Bridge but that he’d sell me the tickets. I was in no mood to argue so quietly rolled my eyes and bought the tickets. When I was back on the tube I realised that I had two tickets from London Bridge to the airport, and only one from the airport to London Bridge. For those of you unfamiliar with the pedantic nature of the trains in the UK, this was not enough tickets. Or at least, not enough of the right tickets.
I rocked up to London Bridge and didn’t see any Express trains. So I had to ask a nice train person and he informed me that if I ran I’d catch the train to the airport. And that my tickets would all be fine. I ran (and I’ll just point out here that it was glorious weather that I hadn’t counted on and so was slightly overdressed and had just been round the houses on the tube which meant that I was sweaty and gross). I got on the train and checked the time and according to the website I’d checked, The Mom’s flight would be landing as I caught my breath en route to Gatwick.
Clearing border control is an inexact science and I wasn’t sure if The Mom would be waiting on me when I arrived. I hoped not because I know she has a tendency towards panic.
At any rate, after the shuttle from the south to the north terminal, I finally arrived at the bit where The Mom would magically appear and waited. And then waited a bit more. And then, having no sign of her, began to get slightly concerned that perhaps they’d made the Canadians get off elsewhere. But then I caught sight of a man in a thick sweater, with a Hudson’s Bay bag and a box of Tim Horton’s donuts and was immediately reassured.
And sure enough, ten minutes later, a bright pink raincoat came at me announcing that The Mom had arrived.
So we repeated the steps I’d just done, however, along with my things (a backpack and a satchel), I now had her case, her purse, and herself in tow. The tickets were fine until we tried to leave the train at King’s Cross. The Mom couldn’t get through the ticket barriers. The train official and I had a small terse chat that ended with me saying, “Right how can we fix this?”
And him, thankfully, relenting and letting The Mom through.
Before you think me a bad daughter, I’d given The Mom the slightly questionable ticket in the hopes that she could do what I normally do in such circumstances: shrug, and put on the most American accent possible, in the hopes that people will just wave me through. (Sorry to any American friends but turnaround is fair play – you lot have been traipsing through Europe for ages with Maple Leaves pinned to your jackets so…).
Anyhow, after a couple of hours, The Mom and I arrived at our hotel in Islington, London, and properly began our week of adventures.