Thursday, 22 May 2008

Off the rails.

When I lived in London it seemed entirely normal that different Underground trains, like overground ones, left from the same platform. I could never understand why this baffled visitors; you checked the board, simple as that. Then last time I was in London after nothing more than a glass of water over lunch (I was driving the pushchair) I boarded a Tube, sat down to read my newspaper (the pushchair occupant was asleep) and failed to notice I was on the wrong line heading in the wrong direction until I looked up and found I was in the middle of nowhere. This does not happen in Paris. Only one line arrives - from the left - and departs - to the right - from any given platform. If you have identified the right line, you cannot catch the wrong train, you can only go in the wrong direction. I blamed the London incident on having been out of the country too long.

Then there was the 'TGV incident', which I promised not to mention again.

Now I have notched up a hattrick. I had to take La Fille to her optician to get the lenses changed in her glasses. I have been to the same shop at Place de la Nation more than a dozen times, by metro, by bus and even on foot when I am feeling especially energetic; it is a three mile hike. For some reason, however, I took a metro to Place d'Italie in an entirely different part of Paris and some way across the other side of the River Seine? I don't know why, any more than I can explain London or the TGV incident. I am not normally so dozy. It gets worse; I didn't notice my mistake this time until I left the Metro at Place d'Italie where there just happened to be a mass demonstration and march. The station and surrounding streets were packed with students protesting against education reforms and making a lot of noise about "social solidarity".

Was there a single show of solidarity as I struggled up the station steps La Fille in one hand, pushchair in the other as they jostled and shoved past me? Was there hell.


Cimon said...

Lines 7 and 13 actually fork, so you need to check whether you are going to Asnières or Saint-Denis ;-)

And things get worse with the RER (which always arrives from the right as it is considered as a train, so train rules apply).

Maggie May said...

I don't know how people find their way around on the underground!
No one seems to help you when you really need it in London.
has La Fille got over the lost toys now?

scotty said...

It is impossible to find yourself going the wrong way round the London Underground. One stop would show you if you had been stupid enough to get on the wrong train. The stops are clearly displayed above every seat.
Certainly been out of London too long.
The network is crap, but the tube map is a design classic as all the world should accept.
I'll be eternally grateful to the staff at end-of-the-line Wimbledon for saving my briefcase, making me up a bed by an overnight fire and always ensuring I had a wake-up call in time for the first edition .
If only I could have found such an understanding wife.
By the way, what in either English or French does the reference to the word "glasses" mean in respect of La Fille's eyesight. Could the Paris lady possibly have forgotten the English word spectacles?
Bit like listening to the radio instead of the good old wireless.
Kind regards

Parisgirl said...

I stand corrected Cimon.

Maggie May...she seems to have fallen in love with a fluffy dalmation dog (toy) I bought as a consolation.

Scotty, what a hoot you are. This is not the first time you have called me stupid; circa 1985 if my memory serves me correct. I forgave you then, I forgive you now. And now if you'll forgive me, I have to go and listen to Donald Where's Yer Troosers!

scotty said...

Sorry my dear girl. Grumpy old man syndrome clearly kicked in along with a touch too much sherbet.
Thanks for forgiveness and for accepting that apparently every quarter of a century I have an uncontrolled urge to make a spectacle of myself ( or should that be glass).
As for stupid, seem to recall Nancy Sinatra had a hit many years back with that word in the title, but can't think of calling you that so long ago. Couldn't be further from the mark.
What on earth was the context that made the insult stick in your memory for so long?
Scotty x

Nora said...

That must have been extremely uncomfortable. I can't imagine being stuck in that crown with a three year old and a push chair. I suppose you didn't feel like joining in the shouting and chanting. Your little girl is too young for the social lesson.

Nora said...

that crowd, I meant to write.

The Lehners in France said...

I hate undergrounds, avoid them like the plague. The nights before I had to travel to London I never slept, worring about getting on the wrong tube. The first thing I did when I got home was shower the grime off. Bad memories. Debs x