Sonal’s Odyssey and Other Birthday Adventures

It all started so well. I woke up in the morning, a little short on sleep having started baking a pavlova at midnight (so that it could cool in the oven as I slept). I spoke to Mum via Skype, got the keys to the place I was renting for the weekend and even managed to get a trolley full of supplies to the party house before jumping on a train to Glasgow to join Lou, Ruth, Diana and Kelly for Radiohead.

So far, so good. And then I arrived in Glasgow.

Mistake 1: Only packing a hoodie for warmth and an umbrella for protection from the rain.
It’s a good two or three degrees colder in Glasgow than Edinburgh and the rain was pretty persistent. My umbrella was fine … until I got to the gig. And then we had to take them down and protection came in the form of a plastic rubbish bag that we had taken from Diana’s place as a precaution.

Mistake 2: Not checking the last train time. Oh how I would rue this.

So, in wet Glasgow, we have lunch, the rain keeps falling, the ladies buy gumboots and we brace ourselves for a night in the rain on Glasgow Green.

First up, what a gig. This is my favourite band in the whole world and I’m seeing them for the first time in ten years on my 30th birthday. Admittedly it didn’t beat the first time I had seen them live but then again, back in 1998, I was in the second row of the moshpit, I had been on the same flight as them from Wellington, had Thom Yorke dash right pass me, shown Ed O’Brien where the luggage trolleys were while the rest of the band stood next to me getting their luggage off the baggage carousel … all the time being too shy to ask them to autograph the copy of OK Computer that I had in my hand luggage … I doubt any concert is going to beat that. That said, unlike the reviews we had read about their previous concerts on this tour, Radiohead pull out the classics – Airbag , Paranoid Android (would you believe hard rain began to fall half way through the song), Just, Fake Plastic Trees, Karma Police, National Anthem, No Surprises, Optimistic and finally ending the gig (on a second encore) with Idioteque.

It’s about here the adventure starts … gig ends at 10.45pm … Sonal, pessimistically reckons the last train for Edinburgh would be 11.20pm … so, with the aid of Diana, I hoof it to the nearest train station at get there at 11.10pm … and look at the departures … none of them list Edinburgh … I find a train schedule …

The last train to Edinburgh left at 11.06pm. Standing with me staring with disbelief at the board are two young men (who turn out to be students at Edinburgh University – Mallory and Jason) we combine forces and hoof it, to the other train station whose train left at 11pm …

Mallory recalls that there’s an all night bus to Edinburgh so after a quick call to Lou and Diana we hoof it to the bus station. Where there’s a cue of about a 100 people planning to do the same thing, with a bus that only comes every half hour or so and finishes a 3am …

Now, you’re probably thinking, Sonal, why didn’t you just go and crash at Diana’s place like the others had and catch the first train in the morning? You see in my cunning arrangement, I had thought that my ability to fit much activity in a small space of time would allow me to come back to Edinburgh that evening and meet my friends who had travelled up from London that day to take them home to their accommodation. Of course, I didn’t count on the last train to Edinburgh leaving so early.

Panicked phone calls to flatmates, Janet and Sally, ensued … thankfully they are lovely enough to allow complete strangers into their home while they are out and their flatmate tries to make her way back. Minor crisis averted, I concentrated on getting home.

Diligently I queued. And waited, and waited, and waited. Ahead of me was another New Zealander, from Roto-vegas, he proudly told me. His girlfriend had heard me answer my phone with a kia ora and, pissed out of his tree, he decided that we should bond with a bit of bro talk (for which he changed his accent, bless):

“Where you from?”
“Oh true? Too much”

At this point, other New Zealanders in the line were covering their eyes with embarrassment, not making eye contact with Roto-vegas whiter-than-white-and-more-middle-class-than-me boy and tried to recall the last time anyone had used the words “too much” without irony, in any conversation.

By 12.30 am, the queue had moved all of two metres and the dispensing machines were our only source of sustenance … by the way Snickers don’t really satisfy. At all.

At this point, another man further up the queue broke away and talked about getting a minicab home. I called out that I was in and Mallory and Jason (who were in the queue with me) wanted in too.

So Gareth (the lad with the idea) calls for a cab and gets a minibus to take us home. We grab two more people from the queue to join us. And then wait at the rank, and wait, and wait … the minibus doesn’t show. I call the company … they can’t find the bus so suggest we get another two people and they’ll send two cabs … we wait, and wait, and wait. The minibus shows up, but he’s only going to take six of us and charge us double. We let him go, a couple who were going to catch a cab with us leave in frustration and then finally a cab shows up. Two ladies who were joining us get upset and mad at Gareth and me for leaving them out, I tell them to get two more people and they’ll be fine as another cab is coming … they yell all sorts but at this point Gareth and I (who have joined forces at wrangling everyone and everything) are tired of baby sitting and climb into the cab. After a bit of dithering, Mallory and Jason join us.

And so at 1.30am we finally set off in a cab, Edinburgh bound. Me and three random students – Jason and Mallory, the postgrad science students (since when were postgrads so much younger than me?) and Gareth the mature (and that’s to say roughly my age) Irish student who had been in Edinburgh for a couple of years because he had followed his lady over. We direct the cab driver to Princes Street, paid him the princely sum of £13.50 each and dashed for our respective homes at 2.30am

Finally I got home to Kathryn, Erica and Vidya … loaded them up with more supplies and took them to their beds. At 3am, satisfied that all will be well at their end, I make my way home and start repacking the trolley of supplies for the next morning. Now that I didn’t have any time to finish cooking at home (thanks to transport woes) I’d have to do it at the other flat.

By 4am I finally got to bed, at 5am I get a text from Janet to say she’s coming home (she gave her keys to Kathryn) at 6am she knocks on the door and at 9.15am I get up. 10.30ish I make it back to the other house and the party begins …

From here everything went well again. The cooking got done at a nice slow pace, we started drinking at around 3 when Charlotte rocked over with the Pimms and didn’t really stop until 4pm the next day. The front door stayed open and a neighbour said that she could hear the laughter of young women ringing out across the courtyard … she brought me a four leaf clover she had found, as a gift …

We ate, drank, made merry, laughed, giggled, guffawed, teased mercilessly, blushed and joked the night away and when we were tired, we slept or went into town to dance … and then crawled off to our respective beds at 3am, woke up at 9.30 to get the last supplies and had a champagne brunch, before cleaning the place (finishing off opened bottles of wine) and packing everyone home.

Thank you Lou, Diana, Ruth, Kelly, Janet, Sally, Kathryn, Erica, Vidya, Allie, Renu, Charlotte, Craig, Sanjay, Stuart and, of course, the taxi lads – Gareth, Mallory and Jason … you guys made this birthday rock! I don’t know how I will ever top this weekend …


3 Responses to “Sonal’s Odyssey and Other Birthday Adventures”

  1. And now are you Facebook friends with your cab buddies? 😉

    I seriously adore how in the process of all your transportation woes you managed to photograph the situation.

  2. Gods, getting home to Edinburgh after a Glasgow gig is always a nightmare. Cal and I spent bloody four hours at the bus station once after a Beastie Boys gig, with about 200 other people. Miserable.

  3. Yeah the queue was more like 200 but I thought I may be exaggerating … apparently the trick is to prebook your ticket on the bus, then they have to let you on first before those who haven’t got tickets …

    Next time …

    And no, did not even exchange phone numbers with the taxi lads … the two young postgrads leave this week and no doubt will see Gareth about town soon enough.

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