My small suitcase trundles behind me as I walk along the platform. Behind me, the sound of snaps and sparks signals the arrival of the east-bound Piccadilly Tube line which will take me to King’s Cross St Pancras Station from where I intend to catch the Eurostar home. If I’m lucky, I will arrive early enough to change tickets and be in Brussels by 9.30pm.
I get on at the end of one of the carriages. Having luggage means that it will be awkward to sit so I stand and continue to read my paper as we head into the heart of London. The train shouts station names at me, people get on and off but I am oblivious to all this as I am engrossed in my reading. I do notice that more people are on the train when people start pressing up against me. Forced into an awkward position, I try to keep reading but soon am stuck between the carriage and two Asians with blue hair and can no longer hold the paper in front of me.
The train groans its way into King’s Cross. The lack of ventilation on the Tube means that it is exceedingly warm and almost claustrophobic too, so I breathe deeply when I finally manage to step on to the platform. As the train leaves, I follow the throng, snaking our way up a few escalators and towards the main Eurostar terminal in St Pancras station.
The crowd thins as we reach ground level and everyone goes his or her separate way. Rush hour is still on, and smartly dressed people dash to and fro, all eager to get home. A woman in a gray pin-stripe suit jogs past me only to stop, step out of her red sandals, pick them up and prance off through the rest of the Tube station barefoot.
By the time I reach the Eurostar office, it is too late to change my ticket so I go through the passport control and security desks before getting myself something to eat. I order an extra Diet Coke too, figuring that I may get thirsty on the train. The world around me continues to run to and from different platforms and I lose myself in a good book until it is time to board.
One hour later and we are on the high-speed train somewhere under the English Channel on our way to France and then Belgium. I reach into my bag for the Diet Coke only to realise that lawyers are being employed at Coca-Cola in their packaging and design department. Right in front of me, the instructions on the bottle-top clearly state:
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