Some time ago I read a novel by a Spanish author, Rosa Montero, possibly one of my favourite writers. The story begins in an airport where the female narrator is waiting for her husband to emerge from the gents’ toilet. Time passes and he does not appear. Their flight is called for boarding and he does not appear. The airport staff search the gents’ and there is no sign of him. The rest of the story is not important here. I wouldn’t like to spoil it for you in case you ever get around to reading it. Ever since I read it, however, I have been on tenterhooks whenever we are in an airport departures lounge and my Phil disappears into the gents’, especially if it is close to the departure time for our plane. I mention this because last Sunday I thought I was going through a slightly different version of that scenario.
We had gone to the Victoria and Albert Museum, a place definitely worth visiting. When we reached the point of feeling quite “museumed out”, we decided to find the café for some refreshments. En route we took a stop off to go to the loo, ladies’ to the left, gents’ to the right. A few minutes later I returned to the point where we had gone our separate ways and waited … and waited … and waited. I began to have a feeling of déjà vu or maybe that should be “déjà lu”. Finally, some fifteen minutes later my wandering husband returned. He had missed the very small sign half way down a staircase and had ended up in the depths of the museum: lost!
This was not the first, nor indeed the last, time we had managed to get lost during our visit to London. Catching a bus to the tube station one day we had misread the information at the bus stop and convinced ourselves that the bus we were about to catch would take us all the way to Victoria Station. It would make a nice change, we thought, to travel into central London by bus. We could see the sights from the top deck. It was a fine if rather cloudy day and we were in no hurry. Besides, it would be free as we could travel on our Greater Manchester bus passes. So far so good. And then a few stops after the tube station the bus came to a stop and the driver announced that this was the terminus. After wandering around for a while we concluded that we were in fact heading away from central London! Oh for a compass in a situation like this!!
Then a few days later we did it again. In search of South Kensington tube station to begin our journey home after leaving the Victoria and Albert I misread the map and marched us well out of our way so that we had to retrace our steps to find a tube station to begin our journey home. We had had no trouble going from the tube station to the V & A because we had gone through the long, long tunnel system connecting directly to the museum. So I had us temporarily lost in London. But were we downhearted? Not one bit. It’s all part of the adventure. And our overground route took us past the Natural History Museum, a building well worth seeing even if you’ve run out of time and energy to visit it.
And finally I found something I had mislaid. A while ago I decided I wanted re-read a book by Cormac McCarthy, “All the Pretty Horses”. When I looked on our bookshelves there was no sign of it. The other two books in the trilogy were there no Pretty Horses at all. I remembered lending it to a friend but he declared that he had returned it long ago. Not being an argumentative soul, I kept to myself observations about people who borrow books and lose them for you. Well, during our visit to London, looking for something to read on our son’s bookshelves I came across a copy of All the Pretty Horses with our name in it. Hmmm, so now we know who the non-returner is. I wonder how many more of our books he has on his shelves!