What a joy the Eurostar can be! Not, of course, when a fire in the tunnel has stopped it working. Having cashed in my train tickets, or attempted to there’s a fortnight’s backlog in handling transactions my journey to Paris began at Birmingham International Airport, close to the Throckmorton Literary Festival, at Coughton Court, Warwickshire, where I had been giving a talk.
We took off bravely in a propeller-driven plane; Birmingham, I’m told, has three-quarter-length runways. Coming home, the only flight I could get was a late one to Luton. On arrival, it was the work of a moment to identify a Green Line bus going to Victoria. I hadn’t taken a Green Line bus since childhood; unfortunately, I was doomed not to on this occasion.
The doors closed as I approached, my rapping on the glass went unheeded, the bus pulled away. ‘I wasn’t smirking,’ said the bus despatcher, whom I furiously accused of enjoying my discomfiture. ‘I was eating a sandwich.’ By the time the train had arrived at St Pancras, the Victoria line had closed for repairs. And to think that people once thought international travel was glamorous.