Trial and Tribulation
Our three day holiday in Prague began and ended with Franz Kafka. For maximum time in situ, I’d booked an 8:40 A.M. flight from Stanstead. To arrive at the airport two hours before (no longer necessary with online booking, but it feels safer), I booked us on the 4:10 National Express coach from Golders Green. There’s a 24-hour bus to there from near our house, but at night it only runs every half hour so, to be super safe, we took a taxi.
What could possibly go wrong? That’s exactly what Josef K said to himself when two policemen showed up to arrest him for an unspecified crime which he was certain he hadn’t committed. Surely some mistake!
The cab arrived on the dot and left us on the wide pavement in front of Golders Green Station. It was raining, so we hurried to the National Express bus stop and double checked that it was the right one. No problem. After a couple of minutes, Mary exclaimed,
—Where’s the suitcase?!
—My God! It’s still in the taxi!
No mobile phone and no number for the cab company—nothing to do but take a cab back to their office in the Market Place near our home. Miraculously for such an hour, one appeared immediately. At the cab office a few minutes later we reported our emergency. Contacted on the phone, our driver insisted that he’d given me the suitcase. Given me? Surely not! Where was it? Nothing to do but get another cab back to Golders Green and hope for a miracle. Our Prague holiday was going up in smoke.
After what seemed an eternity, our cab pulled around the corner to where we had been let off half an hour before. At 4 a.m. the street and the wide pavement were deserted. There was nothing and no one in sight but a couple of bits of street furniture: a lamppost and near it a square black box, probably a phone or electrical facility. As our cab grew closer, the black box gradually transmogrified into our suitcase. Like a faithful hound, it had sat there for thirty minutes, waiting patiently for us. The world had changed and our holiday was once more before us. It was indeed a Kafkaesque tale, but with a happy ending.