My memory is leaving me.
This morning I packed a suitcase with clothes and my Hungarian goose down pillow ready for my next business trip. The intention was to leave the suitcase in the office, so I could travel at short notice. But then I met the crossword man on the platform and started chatting to him. We were soon joined by Jan, my colleague, and the three of us talked about heirlooms and how these were more valuable than Nikon cameras and so on. Generally shooting the breeze, but enough to make me forget all about my suitcase which I had stored on the luggage rack near the doors.
When I saw Jan at the train station, I wanted to ask her to remind me, but I was mesmerised by the enthralling stories of the crossword man and forgot that as well. As we were entering our office reception, I realised my folly. I ran to the lost property office at Southampton Central.
Meeting the station supervisor, I began, ‘I travelled from Chandler’s Ford and…’
‘Nice place, Chandler’s Ford’, he quipped.
I smiled and continued ‘… forgot my suitcase in the train’.
After establishing which train what coach and so on, he took my business card and said he would call me. After a couple of hours I had a phone call from him informing me that my suitcase was located and was held in Salisbury. If I didn’t collect it in the next two days, it would be sent to London Waterloo!
After work I went to the supervisor’s office who gave me a permit to travel to Salisbury. Forty minutes journey time, five minutes to find the lost property office and I got my suitcase. Happy 👯.
From Salisbury, I took a train to Romsey, a twenty minute ride. I said to the young man sitting next to me, ‘At Romsey, would you please remind me to take my suitcase from the luggage rack? I have a terrible memory’.
As the train approached Romsey, I shut the book I was reading and got up. The lad tapped me on my arm, ‘Don’t forget your suitcase’.
The prankster in me couldn’t help it. I looked at him blankly and asked, ‘Suitcase? What suitcase?’
For a few seconds he was completely perplexed. Then I smiled at him and said, ‘Sorry mate, just joking’.
I think he liked my antic because his face just lit up with a broad smile.
Now Romsey can be confusing. The trains do circular routes and one can get to Chandler’s Ford in 7 minutes clockwise and 45 minutes anti. I couldn’t figure out which platform I needed for the shorter journey. So I hit the information button and this Indian woman came on the line.
‘I just want to know the platform for Chandler’s Ford … you know, the one that gets there at 1714?’.
She asked me to spell it. C H A N D L E R S F O R D Charlie, Hotel, Alpha, November… I was surely going to miss my train.
‘I am sorry sir, there is no station by that name’.
It was there that morning! I wanted to tell her that indeed there is one and I travel everyday to work from there, I have lived there for the past 6 years and so on. But I desisted as a small crowd was discreetly listening to the conversation between the coconut Indian and the call centre Indian. I just said thank you and started to walk away when she started speaking again.
‘Yes yes’, she said sounding like Columbus. ‘I have found it’.
‘There is a train at 1707 from platform 2’.
‘Thank you, thank you’, I ran to my train which was just pulling in at platform 2. This time I didn’t sit. I stood with my suitcase 💼 next to me. I am back home. Now I am looking at worst case scenarios including sleepless nights in hotel rooms without my Hungarian goose down pillow. Or maybe I will try again on Monday, if I remember…
Before I sign off, a big Thank you to the smart supervisor at South West Trains, an apology to the young lad on whom I played a minor prank and a Sabash to the Indian call centre woman for discovering Chandler’s Ford. I need to travel next week to Llanfairpwllgwyngyll in Anglesey, Wales. I am going to carry a timetable this time.
The writer has published the original post on blogspot in September 2016: Memory: I am sure I knew what it meant.
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