It’s the 8:40 Glasgow to London Virgin Express and we’re set. DVD, iPad, iPhone and a spare packed in my rucksack, actually not my rucksack, a piece acquired along with the children. Armed with every E numbers, carb and gobstoppers, everything that a parenting book won’t tell you but I’ve been here before.
Quick picture for Facebook, show the world our adventurous side and a warning to Coach D that we’re on board. I’m quick to advise the man opposite that he may wish to upgrade. Undeterred, he assures me it’s fine. He’s equipped with today’s papers from the Guardian to Private Eye, no doubt looking forward to immersing himself in some current affairs.
My current affairs are sitting pretty in seats 23 and 24, and the two blades between my shoulders are beginning to tense up. I haven’t started stripping the layers off as yet. The train’s not even departed and they’re prowling in the plastic bags for their first course.
They’re content and for now, contained. They don’t know about the on board lavatory which will soon become the highlight and my vantage point for the four and a half hour trip.
The DVDs buy me an hour or so, as does the masses of food I’m getting them to consume by 10 am.
The youngest one is the first to ask: “I need a pee?” Followed by his brother. The 2ft by 2ft cell is a hit. In the space of an hour we pushed past every commuter, knocking a few suits on the way, while visiting the facilities at least three times back and forth. The fourth visit was a bit of an emergency as I raced into First Class full steam ahead – you see, those ones are manned.
Never talk to strangers doesn’t seem to resonate with my boys. Before I know it, they are singing songs from the Alamo, I’m going to kill their papa for that one, and they’re offering Haribos to strangers, whilst declaring they’re off to kill the baddies in London with their guns.
I’ve a glackit smile plastered across my face and a few hours on the clock till bedtime. I’m given encouragement by onlookers who warn me of the pearls of the Tube. I’m quite capable, honestly, as I scrape my three-year old off the floor. “I want a gun?” That’s nice, not so loud. But “you said there would be gun shops in London!”
“Yes, yes, I”ll get you a special toy when we get off the train.”
“I want a gun!”
Next stop, The Tube. Before I know it, I’m marching the bedraggled children down the escalators and barking at them to hold my hand. It’s every man for themselves, survival of the fittest, Darwin style. Gone are my manners, we’re in London, they don’t do queuing or etiquette underground. And we don’t want to look like the hillbillies from the country, my backpack is bad enough and showing us up as it is.
We make it. We’re on the right line and we’ve pushed past arrogance and we’re perched on a seat supported by my tonne of technology. Weary legged, my three year old thinks I need to redress the balance at the front and looks at me to carry him. He’s tired. I’m frigging exhausted and it’s 1pm. The final leg of the journey is within grasps, and like any athlete I’m psyching myself up for the penultimate challenge. The Olympics are coming and I’m here. The train arrives at London Bridge and we’re on it. Just five stops and a short 15min walk to the house and I’ve made it. The natives are getting restless and their enthusiasm for the adventure has long evaporated. I’m leading this team, breaking barriers and PBs. I really don’t get the recognition I deserve. They’ve stopped. It’s catastrophe. It’s the last lap and they’ve decamped on the pavement. They are refusing to move. I really don’t need this. I can’t have carriers in my team. I’m a winner. I’m in the Olympics.
No, I’m delirious?