The sign said ” ticket office will reopen at 10:00″. There were already 12 people waiting in line. They had had to work their way through larger queue that were trying to make the ticket machine work. The ticket machine was thoughtfully sited outside the booking office in such a way that the people trying to use it blocked the entrance.
The the London train was due at 10:13. I could see people doing mental arithmatic. If everyone had the correct money, if the requests to the booking clerk were straightforward, if the booking office did in fact reopen at 10:00 then we might, just might, be able to buy our tickets and get the train.
At 10: 00 exactly the shutter went up. It was not a friendly service but at least it was a service. As the first person in the queue started to speak, the rest of us looked at our watches. “I would like a senior rail pass and a ticket to Hove” she said. The clerk smiled and said ” Have you filled in the form”. “No” came the reply. The clerk passed a form over and said ” Have you got a pen”. ” No” came the reply. “Have you got any ID” again the reply was “No”. “Here we go” thought the onlookers!
Anyway, after delays, a drunken meal with another “Tommy” (Hans son) we managed to sit in the wrong carriage on the Eurostar train, get lost looking for the hostel and have the briefest conversation with Lord Peter Mandelson.
We are sharing a bunk room with two other people who we have not met, but have heard as they arrive back later and drunker than us. The view from the window is simply stunning. All is well in the best of all possible worlds.