"I'll get a coach said Hubby. Save the cashflow."
Cashflow is always a big thing in our house, and so even when someone else is ultimately picking up the tab for Hubby's "very important Government business.... shhhhhhh" we do still tend to take the low budget options at all times.
We are so boring.
So, he booked a ticket from Gloucester. £9.50 return "Funfare" from Gloucester to London on a National Express Coach. Fantastic. You can't really go wrong. Well... until he got a phone call, asking him to be in London an hour longer than previously expected. So... he booked an additional later single from London. That one cost another £4.50. We were still winning even on our tight budget.
As he left at 6.15 a.m. I dragged myself out of the bath and started to get on with the day. It all seemed relatively easy, especially as everyone had made an effort to get up early and get themselves organised. Quite the domestic scene really. There was I ironing (!) my skirt for work, Sensible was making a cup of tea, ESOS was working out how to bring himself into a compos mentis state for the day and Gymnast and Tinkerbell Mushroom were getting themselves some breakfast....
Then the phone rang.
"There's been an accident on the A40. I'm going to miss the coach."
Hubby was on the A40 to Gloucester. Traffic jams have been seriously common along the A40 for weeks. You see, what they are trying to do is to make two lanes and a bus lane into, as I understand it, two lanes and um... a bus lane. And, even without accidents added to the mix, it's taking six months, driving people semi suicidal in their attempts to get to work on time and costing the tax payer a fortune......
"I'll go onto the internet, and see if I can find out where the next stop is."
Crank up seriously slow computer... and eventually find out that it stops first at Longlevens and then at Cheltenham. Call Hubby back.
He aims for Longlevens... but misses it there.
"Where can I park in Cheltenham?" He says on his next call.
Having spent five weeks earlier in the year, acting in a play for minimum pay, I am, despite my serious navigational handicap disadvantages, actually an expert at where to park in Cheltenham for a day, for free. So I direct Hubby to my very secret free parking spots.
"No" he said. "I haven't got time to walk from there, and get the bus at 7.30 a.m." "O.k." I said, "go to the NCP and park there for the day. You can claim it back."
I go back to the business of getting myself and everyone else organised for the day. Sensible and ESOS disappeared off on the bus, leaving me with just Tinks and Gymnast. I needed to get out by 7.55 a.m., as I had to drop them off at school seriously early, at 8 a.m., so that I could get to work.
7.35 another call. "The driver wouldn't let me on the bus, because my ticket was to travel from Gloucester. I would have had to have bought a full ticket for £20." At this point, had it been me, I have to say that I may have said, "Stuff the cashflow. Take me away driver..." But Hubby is more prudent than me... and he knew that he had only £23 on him, of which he needed £14 for the day's parking, and that was his budget for the day without causing ripples for the Lomax financial front.... And so he was by this time walking back to the car, with a view to possibly going back to Gloucester to get the coach there at 8 a.m.
"No, don't do that" I said. "I'll ring National Express and see what I can do. You go and move the car to my very good and very free parking spaces and I'll sort out the tickets for you."
I rang the enquiry line. There would be no-one there until 8 a.m. Hubby would have to sort it out himself. I would text him the number. But ... it was one of my old friends, an 0845 number, which of course would cost dearly on a mobile... So I went in search of a new number on the "say no to 0870 website." I found a number, and just in case it didn't work (which sometimes they don't, because for some reason companies want us to use the lines that cost them more and put money into the phone companies pocket, and cost us more in the process) I checked the number by calling it, before I called hubby again. And lo and behold, my standard 0121 number was in fact a 24 hour helpline. "Oh said the woman" (imagine Birmingham accent here), it's a great pity you didn't phone before he tried to board bus at Cheltenham. I could have called them and asked them to let him board...." "Yes, but I didn't have your number then ... I started to mutter weakly... while storing the VERY USEFUL number in my mobile phone for future use. "The thing is, I said, I need to get him another ticket from Cheltenham, and really I want to get him another cheap fare, but you have to book those online, and I can't get the voucher to him...." "Oh you can" said my helpful Birmingham lady. "Ask to have the ticket sent by text to his mobile phone."
It was by now however, quarter to eight and I realised that the lunches weren't finished for Tinks and Gymnast. I barked instructions to Gymnast. "There's one sandwich made" I said. "Can you put that into your lunchbag and get fruit and stuff organised for both of you? The bread is cut. I'll make the other sandwich in a minute." "Don't worry Mummy, said Gymnast, we'll do the other sandwich." I thought for second that I perhaps ought to tell them what to put in it, and then decided that for one day, it would be just fine ... whatever it was.
So..... I spent another £11......... By now the cheap ticket to London and back had actually cost £25...
I called Hubby.
"Right, I said. "You are on the 8.30 from Cheltenham. It's all paid for, and you will get a text in a minute or so to give you the details. If it doesn't work call me back and I have a number for you to ring, but right now I have got to GO."
I went into the kitchen to find Gymnast and Tinks struggling with the clingfilm for the sandwich. "It just doesn't seem to want to go round the sandwich" said Gymnast. I took over, got the last few bits together, threw some lettuce into what appeared to be a half made pasta salad from one of the older kids, for me, got two children into the car and went. I left all the cereal packets and used bowls out for the burglars.
I then drove the very long distance to the front of the school (across the road from our house) and dropped off Tinks and Gymnast. I looked down at my fuel gauge. Nought miles. (It very kindly tells me when I have zero miles left). 8.02 a.m. I had to be 37 miles down the road in 53 minutes, actually teaching. (That was having missed the early morning meeting... Given fact that I would not make that anyway on this particular morning...)
Drove into the petrol station. Waived to the cashier to start the pump. And helpfully, as soon as she had finished her conversation with her colleague, she turned the pump back to nought for me. I threw a minimum amount of fuel into the car, ran in, paid, ran out and back into the car. It must be a bit like being a racing driver... Sort of....
8.04 I was finally on the road. Sped into school at 8.50 a.m. It did occur to me that it had cost me more in fuel in order for Hubby to have a cheaper ticket to travel, which ultimately meant that I was spending more to save the Government money. How charitable of me. After all the Government needs to save money at the moment, having spent so much on the banks...
I looked at the salad had made for myself and realised that it was actually not a half made pasta salad, but a left over pasta salad from a few days before, got out of a school bag in a hurry on the way to a bus by one of the older children..... with lettuce added by me.
Meanwhile I got a text from Hubby thanking me profusely. "I'm on the coach now. Thank you. You're a star." He said.
And for once I thought...... without being too conceited. "Yes...... Just for today...... I know."
4 months ago