We had not planned to stay in London for more than a night, but as we completed our carefully timed commute into the station at Waterloo and inserted our credit card into the machine to pick up our pre-paid tickets, it seemed as though we may have to change those plans.
The machine had taken it on itself to reject our credit card. I suspect that the little man in the machine does this from time to time simply to relieve the boredom. "Oh yes" he thinks, "these people have twenty minutes up their sleeves, let's have a bit of fun."
Without tickets it is rather difficult to board a train, so we made some haste towards the ticket office where we discovered a queue which reached until next Tuesday at least, full of people with whom the little man had been having similar jokes.
Not quite ready to admit defeat, I excused myself several dozen times as I squirmed my way along the snaking ribbon-defined line until I reached the front, where I explained my presence to the bemused young couple who had no doubt been waiting since last Easter. I'm not sure if it was out of kindness or whether they still hadn't quite come to terms with my sudden arrival, but whatever the reason they allowed me to slip across to the first available teller, where our tickets were issued without further fuss.
In the middle of the afternoon we were having a quiet coffee in the familiar surrounds of David and Barbara's living room, except we weren't north of Caboolture, we were in Smeatharpe.