Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The case of a badly bruised leg

We live in a uniform world these days.  Every high street boasts the same shops selling the same goods.  Pop into a McDonalds or Starbucks anywhere on the globe and you can confidently predict how big your Big Mac or skinny your skinny latte will be. 

And yet there's one mass-produced item we expect to be unique: our suitcase.  Have you customised your luggage to prevent you hauling someone else's undies and trashy novels off the carousel at Heathrow?  Of course you haven't.  You assume you'll know your case as soon as you see it, even though logic tells you any of your fellow passengers could easily own an identical one.

I am no exception to this strange suspension of disbelief, and I am a wincing, limping, groaning, tragic thing because of it.

On Monday morning, I caught the train back from London to Leicester as usual to start another week on the wireless.  Unlike last week's fiasco (see previous blog), the journey proceded smoothly.  We pulled into Leicester, I collected my case from the rack and skipped jauntily into a perfect East Midlands spring morning.

For no particular reason, it then entered my head that I might have left my diary at home.  I decided to check before starting my walk to work and unzipped the compartment in my case which I reserve for this important book.

It wasn't there.  Oh well, I'd just have to manage without it until I went home on Friday night.  Unless I'd inadvertently put it in the main body of my case.  No, it wasn't there, either, although I was pleased and surprised to see that I'd brought a bottle of water with me.  Oh, and sunglasses, too.  They'd be handy now the weather had finally come good.  Very nice sunglasses, actually.  Nicer than mine.

Hang on a minute.....NICER THAN MINE???  This wasn't my case!

Without even pausing to zip it up, I pelted back down the platform and flung it and myself back onto the train.  "I'm terribly sorry," I panted to a surprised and slightly frightened carriage, "I've taken this case by mistake!"

The rightful owner stepped forward and was very nice about it.  I wrenched mine, which was indeed identical and had been right next to his, off the rack and headed for the door. 

Which then began to close.  If I didn't get off that train, I'd have to go to Derby and back, and probably miss the start of my radio show, which must never happen!   I threw my case out and myself after it, crashing on top of it in an ungainly and painful heap (watched, no doubt, by those slightly frightened passengers and convincing any waverers as to my mental state).

One of the refinements of modern rolling stock is that the doors close automatically even if the train isn't about to depart.  Sure enough, the 10.01 for stations to Sheffield was in no hurry to leave.  All I'd needed to do was push the button and the door would have reopened and I could have departed without doing my comedy impersonation of a stunt man.

Thirty-six hours later, I'm still limping and wincing, although the pain is decreasing so I don't think I've done myself any serious harm.

But the moral of the story is clear: customise your cases!  I thought about getting some stickers for mine, but where does anyone over the age of 10 buy stickers? 

And stickers say so much: people assume, not unreasonably, that you are passionate about whatever cause or organisation they advertise.  Do they do ones for people who are slightly left-of-centre, vaguely worried about global warming but not enough to do very much recycling, fairly proud to be British though aware we don't always get it right, and all for banning the bomb provided the other side ban it first?

No, I thought not.  It looks like more suitcase comedy capers could be in the offing.

1 comment:

  1. Bill, I travel frequently by air with two dark green fabric cases - very similar to just about everybody else's on the plane. So I bought a couple of rather garish luggage straps. Few people will ever admit to owning them and as they emerge on the carousel, they are like a beacon to me!