So, on Saturday night, I was at a party in South London, and then I was not at a party, and I was in Kings Cross station, and I had missed my last train back to Cambridge. The guy in the information booth was being singularly unhelpful, and suggested that the best way back to Cambridge now would be to walk. Yeah, so thanks for that.
There was a couple of other people around who’d also missed the train – a well to do looking couple in long, expensive looking overcoats who wanted absolutely nothing to do with the increasingly wild-eyed and panicked looking young man on the platform trying to persuade them to share a cab back to Cambridge; and a girl who was slightly younger than me, with short choppy hair, a nose stud, quirky dress sense and a curiously relaxed demeanour about the whole thing; she looked like she’d be the sort of person who probably had most of Belle and Sebastian’s back catalogue, and would probably be played by Natalie Portman in the film adaptation of the night’s events.
Now, if I was Zach Braff, and this was an indie movie, she would absolutely have been the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of the piece; we’d have sat on the platform until 5am or whatever time the trains started running again in the morning and talked about meaningless and meaningful things all night and I’d have discovered secrets about myself and about the world I live in that I never thought about before and I’d be set on alight with a great new passion for the wonders of life. There’d have been a great soundtrack, probably featuring lots of Canadian indie bands, most of whom had traded members with Broken Social Scene or the Arcade Fire at some point, and we’d have got up to crazy-but-heartwarming hijinks like eating ice cream at 3am or writing life-affirming messages on slips of paper for commuters to find in the morning or something.
However, I’m not Zach Braff; I’m a married 31-year-old with anxiety issues and a fairly serious inability to deal with any situation that might be deemed anything more than slightly-to-moderately inconvenient, in the grand scheme of things. So what actually happened was that I stood about flustering and floundering like a crazy person whilst she looked on, smoking her rollup, wearing a look somewhere between amusement, pity and weariness at my total inability to take control and responsibility for my life, or at least make a bloody decision about what it was that I was going to do about getting home or otherwise. I mean, she tried to help – breaking things down rationally, making sensible suggestions about the likelihood of actually getting back tonight, that kind of thing – but my brain, by this point was in full on stressed overload and I was broadly incapable of expressing anything other than an externalised inner monologue of panic and fatigue and how much my wife was going to kill me for this in the morning.
And, so, in the end, I did the gentlemanly thing and abandoned her on the platform to wait for the 4am bus to Peterborough, and I went into the nearest big-chain travel hotel thing, who told me the nearest spare room was a £35 taxi ride away, and I took it. Gladly. Sorry, manic pixie dream girl, I hope you got home okay in the end.