I have a few photos from our brief days in London in 2008 before heading out for a glorious month in Italy.
There is one of minstrels playing pre-show. There is not one of the rain that splattered down on us as Lear cried out “Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are, / That bide the pelting of this storm…” Nor is there one of the audience member who fainted among the groundlings.
And there the gap in photos begins: where one of our most memorable travel experiences starts in a mad dash to Victoria Station to catch the last bus to the airport.
Due to the tube/bus/train schedules, we had to head to the airport to catch our flight to Pisa the evening before the morning it left and spend an awful lot of time in both Victoria station and (we assumed) in the airport. This was annoying at first, but we got some baguette sandwiches, some candy and some sushi, and prepared for a long night.
As it turns out, this “inconvenience” benefitted us and in fact saved us from utter disaster.
All day long I had this nagging feeling we were supposed to go to Gatwick, not Stansted. But WB had the information and I, in my infinite stupidity, decided to refrain from nagging for once instead of just ask to double-check the tickets myself.
Scene: WB and I staring up at the departures ticker. Pisa: absent. I laugh – it isn’t possible…is it?
Open suitcase. Find electronic tickets. Flight to Pisa, 6:00 am. Departing from…Gatwick. WB’s face: sheer, utter, and complete horror. It is this moment that I still regret being too stunned to take a photograph of. His face was so priceless that instead of breaking out into an explosive and embarrassing slur of curse words and shouting, I cannot stop laughing.
All this has happened in a manner of seconds. I have mildly recovered myself and without speaking we both begin to run to the bus terminal, hoping that the bus we just got off will not have yet left for its return trip to Victoria. From over a barrier we see its headlights flashing as it begins to slowly roll out of the parking lot. I move to run around the long barrier, but WB has other plans. Without warning, he grabs me around the waist and throws me over the barrier. I emit something between a laugh and a scream – a sqwak of sorts – as my skirt flights up and flashes some poor, unsuspecting travellers.
Fortunately, the bus sees us running, faces alight with panic. We board, collapse into the seat, and I dissolve into giggles as we share candy and hope we can make it to Gatwick on time. We do – turns out there is a 3 a.m. bus that gets us there with plenty of time to board and make our way to a significantly more peaceful time in Pisa.
And on the other end, there is a photo of pizza – our reward for the stress of travel.
Of course, I’m obliged to say I wish it hadn’t happened. I wish we’d been more careful. But then again, the memories of WB’s horrified face and my bottom flying through the air are truly invaluable. My only real regret? I didn’t have my camera.