This is taking too long. It’s now two months since I returned home and my blog is still on holiday. So I’m going to post every day until it’s finished. Well, that’s the plan anyway….
I say goodbye to M1, who has been so good to me, take a train to Euston Station and walk to St Pancras Station dragging my suitcase with me. I’m sure those mounds on the pavement at each crossing are useful to some, but they’re quite a nuisance when you’re wheeling a suitcase. It takes me some time to discover I’m in King’s Cross and not St Pancras. While I’m waiting at the information desk to ask, “Sorry for the stupid question, but where is Starbucks?”, I notice that one of the staff’s jobs is to help elderly/infirm people to get to their platforms. I’m impressed.
Fortunately, I’m still on time for my meeting with Cathy Walter, who turns out to be a friendly, warm person and very pleasant to chat to – even for me. The two hours we spend together fly by. She says she wouldn’t have known I had a problem and that causes mixed feelings. I’m happy that I’m managing to keep up my side of the conversation. And I wonder if I come over as a fraud. The fact is that I behave differently with different people, and Cathy is very easy to talk to. Also, I’m generally more at ease with strangers because they don’t have preconceived opinions of me. Most people with social anxiety are just the opposite and are most scared of talking to strangers.
Then I meet my eighteen-year-old daughter, who has been visiting Paris and London with a friend. I’m amazed how well she has coped. She gives me a music box with my favourite French tune, one that brings back pleasant memories:
I don’t want to arrive at my cousins’ house too early and I don’t want to wander around any more with my suitcase. So I sit in the station and watch people and wheeled articles going past. Of all the things we used to manage without – mobile phones, laptops, electric kettles that lift off the part connected to the electric point – wheeled suitcases are the most unfathomable. Surely the technology was available to put wheels on suitcases fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, and more. I also see wheelie bins in a line, pulled by a man in a vehicle. They remind me of a line of ducklings following their mother.
My cousins are pleased to see me and tell me the plans for the next three days.