Monday

32. The War Spirit.


Waiting on platform five, where the 9.58 to London Paddington is lurking, darkened and closed-off for the moment, a small group of us start to tell our stories. One lady tells of how she got up at six to get here from Barnstaple to catch any train whatsoever to London in order to take the 2.15 Eurostar to see her dying mother in Paris.

Another is on the way to Argentina to rejoin her husband who is on a contract out there. She’s been home to visit the children but was terrified of missing her flight.

What amazing stories we all have to tell about our lives! There are others with a less important rendezvous perhaps but all of us taking that 9.58 are truly in need of that blessed train.

Once moving, the train glides slowly through the flooded plain outside Exeter ... just like last year and we gaze out at this now-familiar landscape and wonder about global warming, climate change and whether this is to become the norm.

The guard is so kind. He reassures us that all train tickets to and from London this week will be honoured no matter what trains we take. There are more storms predicted for Thursday so no one knows what will happen.

‘Just keep your eye out for the updates,’ he tells me. ‘On Friday, just get to Paddington whenever you can. We will run hourly services to Exeter one way or another. We will get you home.’

Why is it so important for me to get home? Diane would continue to put me up. We would continue to curl up together with her dog, Ajax, on the sofa-bed in her living room to talk or watch TV in the evenings when I’m not doing comedy; we would still cook supper together. I couldn’t ask for a better friend.

But I want to be home. 
However, there are adventures for me to have this coming week in London; places to go, people to see. And I want to get to the National Portrait Gallery – one of my favourite museums. I have to take a day’s Sabbath in the week and do my Artist’s Date (from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way). Now I have worked out how to organize myself in London, I must start to have some fun.

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