Published on May 2nd, 2010 | by Jillian Wightman0
Writers’ Group: My Great Escape by Imogen Matthews
My Great Escape
On the last day of the Paris conference, I bumped into someone I vaguely knew in the hotel breakfast room.
“Have you heard the news?” this woman said in a smooth voice, a smirk curling round her lips. “A volcano has erupted in Iceland. The ash is heading down across the UK.” She paused for effect. “All the airports are closed.”
“What? Are you sure?” Panic must have shown on my face.
“I’m on Eurostar. Are you?” she said, enjoying herelf.
I left my plate of pastries and rushed straight over to the conference centre to see if the organisers could help. On the last remaining laptop I tried to gain access to the Easyjet website, but it kept flashing up “Permission Denied.” Then I remembered Eurostar. I didn’t care how much it cost. But every single train was fully booked for the next two days.
“Keep trying,” said Justin, the events organiser, who’d just managed to secure a ticket on his umpteenth attempt.
So I spent all morning online, when I should have been attending the conference. On the point of giving up, I bumped into Clare, a journalist. She was staying on in Paris for a few days, so wasn’t worried. “But my boss is leaving by car in half an hour.” My suitcase was in the hotel, ten minutes walk away. Luckily, I was wearing flat shoes. Fifteen minutes later, out of breath, I was back and ready to go. I jammed myself into the back seat next to boxes of equipment and we set off, crawling round the Paris périferique and then onto the open road to Calais and the Channel Tunnel.
Hours later, the train emerged from the tunnel and I’ve never been so relieved to be on home ground. The small matter of my car parked at Luton airport didn’t bother me at all.