I don't think I can be blamed for thinking that someone in the railworkers' union has hacked into my desk diary, ascertained all the dates when I am planning to let a train take the strain (anyone else remember that advert?) and organised rail strikes
Even as I write, I have to admit, most humbly, that my inconvenience is as nothing compared to that of many poor souls known to me who rely on trains to get them to and from work. Really I shouldn't be complaining at all. But of course,
being only too human, I am.
Yesterday was the long-arranged date for our Merry Band of Questers to pay a "behind the scenes" visit to Chichester Cathedral. Most of the fifty plus of us who signed up for this trip planned to go by train - until
the news of the pending rail strike. This left my friend Shirley, who was organising the trip, with the unenviable task of arranging lifts for everyone without the necessary wheels to get to Chichester. As one who has organised many a Questers trip and so
know full well the logistical nightmare involved in matching willing car drivers to would-be passengers, the least I could do was to offer to put my Grand Old Lady and myself at her service - and that of my passengers, Carol, Mary and Julie.
far, so good - until Mary telephoned to warn me that the long stay car park where I had intended to park was closed for something called the Sloe Fair. This would mean, it went without saying, that all the other car parks in the city centre would be chock-a-block.
Just my luck. The Sloe Fair, I am reliably ably informed, is a mega funfair. As it is, therefore, all about amusement and merriment, I feel inclined to forgiveness, whatever the inconvenience.
In such circumstances, I always find, it is best to
set forth with sunny optimism that Everything Will Turn Out Alright. This is the complete opposite of Mr B's approach to potential problems which is to Always Imagine The Worst. It is a long-held theory of mine that everybody in the world more or less fits
into one category or another.
Mr B avows that his approach means one is always prepared for any eventuality. Then if the Worst of one's fertile imagination does not come to pass, there is a wonderful sense of relief. My argument is that this involves
fruitless hours of worry, possibly over nothing at all. Whereas I say that, if all turns out well, then the worry has been for nothing while if the worst comes to the worst, well it will just have to be dealt with anyway. I hope you are following all this,
it being another manifestation of the glass full / glass empty debate. But without glasses, of course.
Mary, Carol and Julie all met up at Julie's house so that I only had one pick-up point - which was both kind and thoughtful of them. Into the
car they piled, waving aside my apologies for the fact that I had failed to give my Grand Old Lady a bit of a spring clean in anticipation of carrying passengers and off we went.
What a merry crew we were! Mary was on a mission to lobby the Powers
that Be over a list of improvements to our home town so we spent most of the journey putting the world to rights. Or at last, that small part if the world where we live. So excited were we by the prospects that I'd forgotten all about the potential parking
problems until we drove into the city to find lots of notices declaring, bossily: "Car Park Full". No worries, I cried, heading for the only other car park I was pretty sure I could actually find. My passengers clearly trusted me implicitly.
lo and behold, as we drove into the car park, there, right near the entrance, a solitary parking space. Optimism rewarded! We had arrived, parked safely and still had time for a reviving cup of coffee (all that putting the world to rights was thirsty work,
don't you know?)
Oh, yes, the Cathedral! I know it quite well but this was a "behind the scenes" visit, you remember, taking us up into areas not usually open to the public. I mean, quite literally, up. The Song Room where the thirteen young choristers
and thirteen adults who make up the Cathedral's renowned choir, practise, was reached via forty-two uneven and winding steps. So, too, the Library with its collection of ancient documents which we itched to touch but, we Questers being generally law-abiding
souls, we didn't.
The library, we were told, was an addition to the building after a fire in the twelfth century ripped through the wooden roof of the previous structure. The source of the fire, would you believe, was the annual Sloe Fair, a celebration
lasting several days in the twelfth century and still a local event in 2016. Way back then it almost destroyed a Cathedral; today it's still causing havoc though fortunately these are only Parking-Related Problems.
On second thoughts I rather
feel the Sloe Fair has a lot to answer for...