I had a dreadful trip. I scraped the hired car. I spent an hour or so circulating the airport but always ending up back on the motorway facing in the wrong direction in rush hour traffic instead of safely in the terminal building. When I tried to fill the car with petrol, it would only fill three quarters full. The little thing kept clicking. The man in the garage couldn’t come and help me as he was alone behind the till. I paid in three different installments, the last two being for sums of the order of 40 cents and 20 cents.
Pitched past pitch of grief
As I was complaining to the man behind the counter about this, I looked in my bag for change and suddenly realised that I had left my passport in the hotel room. An hour’s drive away. And that was assuming that I managed to get into the airport first go. I blurted out my problem to the man in the garage. “That’s the best laugh I’ve had all day”. The kindness of strangers. I drove into the airport pondering my options. I decided that I would hand in my hire car and try to change my flight and get the train back to the hotel (who had by phone confirmed that they had my passport).
Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
I was feeling a bit mournful as I handed back the car to Messrs. Evil Avis, we couldn’t care less and my mood was not improved by discovering that I would have to pay 300 euros for my tiny dent. And petrol money (“probably air in the tank”). I was lingering at the Avis desk negotiating the details with the man when I had a brilliant idea; I would try to fly home on my Belgian ID.
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
I got into the airport. Passed through secuity feeling a little tense as I was now late and I felt that it might take some time to convince officials that I could travel on my ID. The security people stopped my briefcase and I could see them starting to huddle round the telly thing. Four men looked at it baffled. “It’s a breast pump” I said. I think the customs man who sped through my bag was marginally more embarassed than me (what, yes, ok, I’m still breastfeeding, leave me alone, don’t I have enough problems – if anyone so much mentions one word about breastfed babies not sleeping he or she will be shot).
Here creep, Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind
They did, in fact, take my ID without a blink. Until I got to Belgium where, perversely, they insisted on seeing my passport. I said I didn’t have it and the nice woman said “we may have to put you in the holding pen but I’m sure they’ll let you out shortly”. And I said “please, please let me home to my 3 small children and my poor husband who may well divorce me, if I don’t get back shortly” and she laughed and said “oh alright in you go”.
each day dies with sleep
Got home about 23.30 and remembered that I didn’t have any keys because our childminder had taken two sets to the Philippines, our cleaner one set to Poland and the publishing exec a set to London (our keys and globalisation, comments please, in your own time) and I had given my set to the royal grandparents so that they would be able to leave the house with her highness while I was gone. Rang the doorbell and woke the house. Collapsed into bed.
I suspect that I didn’t feel as badly as Gerard Manley Hopkins when he wrote “No worst, there is none” (as my mother is fond of saying “there’s always someone worse off than yourself”) but my English teacher had a special devotion to him and to this poem in particular and whenever things are not going my way it runs through my head and maybe now it will run through yours. Always the ray of sunshine spreading joy and happiness on the internet.