I hate Stansted. Have I mentioned that before?
They use the idea of Terror and Security to make you come ridiculously early and then you just have to sit in a nasty mall that does not have enough seats for two hours.
Then they make you go sit by the gate and if you are flying with a budget airline and do not have a seat number, you have to get into a nasty scrum with the other passengers. Parents and children get split up and it is just really really nasty.
The plane ride was uneventful, an hour or so in the sky asleep.
When I got to Billund, I realised that I did not know enough Danish to get a bus. My useless “Teach Yourself Danish” book has a chapter on transport but the author takes the opportunity to teach you phrases like
“I met Jette when we were at university”
The bus was exactly on time. We drove through lots of countryside and reached a reasonably sized town: Vejle.
Thank God Vejle was not designed by the same buffoon who designed Swansea, the train station and the bus station are the same place.
Getting a ticket was a bit more involved, had to use a machine that only addressed me in Danish. I either spent £450 on a ticket or £4.50. I assume the latter but you never can be sure!
Everything had been fine up until then, I had travelled from A to B with very little fuss.
Left the station, looked at my map, it was going to be easy… follow the road out, go forward 10 blocks, turn left… two and a half blocks to destination.
But it was pissing down. Water from the sky. Wet.
The day before, I had sat on the roof with my flatmate and we were admiring a thunderstorm. Blue lightning over Canary Wharf and no rain. Magical. We could not hear the thunder.
The lightning here was purple and the thunder was three seconds behind (1km away, you guys).
The rain was so heavy that I kept thinking that I could not get any wetter and then I would.
The rain was so heavy that I had to breathe exactly like I was swimming, tilting my head from the flow of water.
When I got to the house, I was so wet that I could wring out my clothes over the shower drain and get LOADS of water.
I had a wash, towelled myself off and went into my bag to find some dry clothes. Not so many. Most were wet. My books were wet.
In my dreams, I imagined watching films with mates and they would have Tower Bridge or something and I would say “Hey! I used to LIVE in London.” and the other person would just nod.
Today, I am just waiting for my clothes to dry off but it will take a while because they are all wet.
It might have been something I would have worked myself up into a state about the rain before. I heard some Chinese woman on the radio a few weeks ago. Her little shack in the slums was bakingly hot on sunny days and leaked on rainy days. The reporter (British) asked her how she coped… did it make her feel sad?
She said “It is not a good thing or a bad thing, it just is.”
I admired that stoicism.
What kept me going was the thought of Phillipe Petit, on his tightrope between the tallest buildings in the world.
He wanted to do something, he planned it, he did it. To get excited or worried would make him overbalance. He walked on a tightrope for 45 minutes without falling off, in pretty extreme conditions and his only concession to mortality was “Oh yes but WHAT a way to die”
I know moving to a small town in Denmark is small fry compared to that but it does feel similar to me. It is something that I might have discounted because I was afraid or thought I could do something safer.
I left my swimming costume behind though. I packed too fast.