Saturday, April 07, 2007

No Train, No Gain

As an organiser, my ex-h has always been somewhat chaotic. Now that he has moved some 500km away, I was wondering if he would have to become more organised concerning the boys, because he had to buy train tickets.

I needn't have worried, at his end, he gets himself sorted - well, the cheaper tickets have to be bought in advance, don't they? As far as my end goes, he's as chaotic as ever.

The boys are on holiday this week and next. I have them for the first week, him the second. The second could start any time from Friday evening to Sunday. All last week I had been wondering exactly when I would hear of his plans.

"Should I ring and ask?" I thought to myself. That would be the obvious thing to do. But an evil little part of me said "No, wait. See how long it takes for him to make contact". So I waited, and waited... and waited.

The boys went off to the centre aeré (day care during the school holidays), and yesterday the whole group went to La Grande Motte to the swimming pool. They would not be back before six and I had no means of contacting them. I still had heard nothing from my ex-h, so I had not packed any bags; I still had to iron their clothes, and I was considering what to cook for dinner with them in mind.

At 4.30pm my mobile rings. It's my ex-h. "Ooooh," I thought, "Contact." He tells me he's on the train from Marseilles and could I bring the boys to the station for the 18.36 train. "Oh" I say, and tell him that he hadn't actually told me when he was expecting the boys; that I had thought by now it must be Saturday, and they wouldn't be off the bus before 6pm (quite apart from the fact that I had to pack their bags having ironed their clothes!).

"Oh" said he, and I hope a little message of "note to self: remember to email Sarah with times and dates" passed through his mighty brain, or maybe he was irritated because I wasn't telepathic and didn't automatically know (I'm going with the latter, from experience).

I left work early and dashed home, ironed the clothes, packed the bags including activity bags for the train, plus a teatime (he never feeds them on the train), and had a cuppa. Would the bus be late? That was the crucial aspect to the possible success of the whole business. It takes, on a Friday evening, roughly half an hour to get to the station, so we were cutting it extremely fine.

One bus arrived, with one of the boys. Where's the other damned bus, I muttered through gritted teeth. It had gone a different way and had got stuck on the autoroute, in the mass of people leaving for the long Easter weekend. I could see failure in my sights, though really, why should I care?

The bus arrived, the other boy got off, and both were bundled into the car which set off at breakneck speed behind a dawdling Fiat Panda which was probably the only car in town that respected the speed limit simply because it could go no faster... Finally, on the dual carriageway we were able to leave it behind and shot off towards town. We were lucky with most of the red lights, getting caught only at a few. We passed the hospital, the Fac de Pharmacy, the stadium, and arrived beneath the Arc de Triomphe, version Montpellier, splat bang into a traffic jam.

It was 6.20pm and we knew it would take ten minutes to clear it down to the bottom. Eventually we got near the station, and instead of going round the houses, up the hill over the rail track bridge, down again, U-turn, back up over the bridge, turn right into the station carpark and dash belatedly to the platform, we went where we shouldn't really, got as close as we could, and walked the 50 remaining metres.

At 6.30pm my ex-h was still collecting papers from his old office!

I told him we were at the bottom. In his panic-driven state, he heard we were up at the top. At 6.35pm he rang demanding to know where we were, and telling us to get to platform C for godsake! So we did.

A guard asked me which carriage we wanted, but of course I didn't know! Suddenly we saw the mad figure, overloaded with backpacks and bags that was my ex-h, he dashed over, found which carriage and on jumped the boys. I remembered to throw in the bags, but not my handbag...

There was just time for a quick kiss and the doors closed.

He doesn't do 'living on the edge' by halves, my ex-h!

I wonder when they're coming back...

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