Sometimes, dear readers, just sometimes, I feel as though if there’s a disaster within a 50 mile radius, it’ll find me.
Truth be told, public ineptitude and outright humiliation is bread and butter for this blog. But this week? This week I reached a new low.
It started well. I arrived in London for my meeting, early, and refreshed thanks to a two-hour impromptu nap on the train.
“Time to pop to the loo and brush my hair,” I thought to myself, overwhelmed with smugness at the idea I might actually turn up to a meeting looking presentable for once.
If you’ve been to Euston, you’ll remember that there are one set of toilets, right at the end of the station. To use them you have to put 30p into a turnstile – invariably you don’t have 30p and have to put a £20 note into the change machine, meaning you spend the rest of the day jangling everywhere you walk.
I got my 30p from the machine and approached the turnstiles. One was out of order, leaving one turnstile for going in to the toilets, and one for coming out. I picked the right turnstile (even I’m not that bad), put in my coins and walked through the turnstile.
Except – for some reason, I was yanked back, as I tried to walk though.
Huh? I twisted around and realised that the corner of my coat was trapped in the turnstile. No biggie. I gave it a little tug, smiling at the woman who was behind me, waiting to come through.
It didn’t budge.
I pulled a bit harder.
I grabbed my coat with both hands and used my entire weight to heave the coat.
A crowd was starting to gather. Not surprising really when you consider I was blocking the only entrance to the only toilets at a mainline train station.
“Try just wiggling it,” someone suggested.
I twisted myself round and peered at where the coat was stuck. There’s a circular base on the side of the turnstile, that the actual bars come out of. The metal press-stud at the bottom of my coat had somehow worked its way between the circular base, and the main box part of the turnstile. I wiggled. Unsuccessfully.
“Simple,” I thought. “I just need to rotate the press-stud around the entire circle until I find the bit where it went IN because logically, it will come back out in the same place.”
Logic, as it turns out, is not a friend of mine.
Two women were now trying to get through the turnstile, despite the fact that I was obviously still attached to it. I’m not going into details but I will just say that being pressed up against another woman’s body isn’t my personal idea of a good time.
I looked around frantically for an attendant, but there was nobody around. Oh God. Kill me now. Someone offered to hold my handbag, and it occurred to me that if she ran off with it, I wouldn’t even be able to chase her.
A very attractive (not that I noticed) man came and put his arms round me (as you do) and tried to yank my coat while I said, “Honestly, it doesn’t matter if it rips.” and tried not to think about the fact that it’s a new coat, and cost a small fortune. The man then suggested that I crouch down and try pulling the coat while he stood next to me and turned the turnstile. That didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. Oh no. *shakes head emphatically*
Meanwhile, the queue to get into the toilets just got longer and longer…
Finally someone in the now substantial crowd realised I wasn’t trapped in the turnstile – it was just my coat. “Why don’t you take your coat off?” he suggested.
These things never occur to you in the heat of the moment, do they?
I slipped off my coat and watched as a dozen or so people came through the turnstile with looks of great relief, and my poor coat went round and round and round and round…
Once the crowd had gone, I did briefly contemplate just leaving the coat and running away, but the man who’d suggested I took the coat off had rolled up his sleeves. After a couple of minutes his plan – he pulled the turnstile one way, I pulled the coat the other – worked, and I was free. Thank goodness!
My coat was now a bit crumpled, and dirty from having spent the last 10 minutes being dragged across a public toilet floor. Excellent. I looked at my phone.
I didn’t even have time to do my hair.