Birmingham, Scarborough Style

Yesterday, I decided to go visit my cousin Shauna in Birmingham. It was a last-minute decision, as I only found out she was there, the day before I left Toronto. And man, what a voyage that was.

Left the house reasonably early and got myself down to London Euston relatively ahead of time.

After plunking down 35 GBP, along with a few more quid for a cookie, some water and crisps, I waited for an hour and boarded the train (luckily, the right one) on time.

Two and a half hours later, I arrived at Birmingham New Street Station. I called my cousin, who I thought would come and meet me. I ended up having to take a cab to her flat (cost: about 10 GBP).

Didn’t do much. Met her boyfriend, caught up with her a bit, ate dinner and watched TV and bootlegged DVDs. (Like the really bad ones where the DVD skips and you could see people’s silhouettes when they left their seats, and where the screen was partly obscured when someone got up in front of the camera or the bootlegger’s jacket got in the way). But it was very nice to see her again, nonetheless.

I stayed a little later than expected, leaving sometime after 8 p.m. Shauna’s boyfriend was more than kind enough to give me a lift back to the station.

I ended up just missing a train back into London and dropped another 35 GBP for a return ticket on the last train to Euston.

That trip itself went well. It was when I finally returned to the station that things got a bit difficult.

I thought – if the train pulled in a couple minutes early – I could dash down to the Underground and try and make my way as far westward as possible. I was doing brilliantly until I skidded to a stop in front of partially closed gates and a whiteboard which read, “UNDERGROUND CLOSED. SERVICE RESUMES AT 5:20 A.M.”

What. The. Fuh.

My friends over in Ealing were probably already asleep, and there was no way I was going to wake them and make them come down for me. I already was staying in their home and pretty much eating their food. How inconsiderate and humiliating would THAT be? It would be like New Year’s Eve 2000, all over again.

That left me with only one alternative, which people back home know I’m notorious for doing after a late night downtown – I was cabbing it home.

I went out to the main street beyond the station and tried flagging down a cab. Lousy luck. And silly me. It seemed everytime I tried walking farther down the street, someone would get a cab near the spot I just stood. After about 10 minutes of this (and panicked visions of spending the night sleeping on a park bench and potentially getting mugged or worse), I strode back into the station, asked the night staff about taxis, and got directed to a taxi park on the other side of the station.

About 40 minutes and almost 30 GBP later, I was back in Ealing. And soon I was out like a light.

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