Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
The origin of the idiom “every cloud has a silver lining” is most likely traceable to the year 1634, when John Milton penned his masque, ‘Comus.’ In it, the quote appears as “Was I deceived or did a sable cloud Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”
There’s some info to get us going, and it’s appropriate to today’s travel post. You will remember I was left flightless like a Galapagos cormorant and had taken myself to the Plaza for a relax before heading back to the airport. My new flight was at 3pm, and I had, by now (Sunday morning) lost my Hilton room and train journey to Brighton. I spent some time chatting to the friend I was due to meet on Monday, and we eventually came up with a new plan. When I did get to London, instead of going to Brighton for the night and then racing back in the morning for our scheduled meet at 12.00, I’d stay in London. This is where the silver lining comes in, but first, you need to know what was going on with Mr Box.
Back in 1980, Pete and I appeared as Cox and Box in the one-act operetta by Sullivan and Burnand. (It’s presented on the programme as Gilbert and Sullivan because we were also in Trial By Jury in act two, but the libretto is by Burnand.) Actually, it is a one-act triumviretta as there are three people in it – and here’s another thing I just noticed. There was a TV version of the show made in 1982 with a guy called Russel Smythe as Mr Cox (my part). Russel was a friend of my uncle, and I used to go to the gym with him when I was in my late teens. That’s just one of many coincidences in this story. Anyway… Cox and Box were due to meet on Monday 30th July outside the theatre where the show was first performed. But…
Mr Box, over for four weeks from New Zealand where he now lives, had taken as part of his family trip, a week in Italy. There were eight in his party (parents, sister, various children) and they were flying with Ryan Air. I know what you’re thinking, and you’d be right. Here’s a list of their holiday highlights: Ryan Air flight out, delayed. Arrive Genoa with all luggage missing. Hire car (minibus I guess) that was booked was not available. €350 taxi trip to Viareggio. Luggage arrived at airport two days before return journey when there were no seats left on the train back to Genoa. No hire cars suitable in Viareggio. Found one in Pisa. Drove to airport for return flight, picked up luggage but found the flight cancelled. No other flights out of Italy (for eight people) until Wednesday – return to New Zealand was Thursday/Friday. Train to Milan for overnight. Found flights for eight people leaving from Zurich on Sunday. Train to Zurich. Managed to fly back to London landing at 10.30pm Sunday.
By which time I had: Downloaded the EasyJet app and secured my boarding pass. Arrived at Rhodes airport, had lunch over the road, joined my comrades in departures where there was still the plane outside the window doing nothing and no sign of activity. Mr Lancashire was still on the phone suing anyone who would listen and threatening to burn down houses, Ms Italy was screaming at some poor floor sweeper, a few people had sourced more vouchers, and a few of us were just waiting calmly. At this stage, people started talking to each other and bonding, which was quite jolly and there were two factions; those prepared to go with the flow and those who wanted a riot. A policeman was called. I popped a couple more blood pressure tablets. Messaging Mr Box to keep him updated and he was sending back shots of wonderful scenery taken from a train travelling through the Alps. That party was happy then. Finally, staff arrived at the plane and eventually we were able to board.
The crew were great; a bit worried about their reception, but folks had calmed down now – I think the Astonomia had a word with Mr Lancashire and Ms Italy, and they were noticeably quiet. The captain explained what had happened (delays elsewhere had put them over their allowed flying time and no other crews were available), and then it fell to the cabin crew to explain that the trolley had not been restocked but what they had would be given away, apart from booze (eyed Mr Lancashire sideways). Took off. Landed, took the train to Victoria (only me, not the whole gang), tube to Temple, wandered up to the Travelodge in Covent Garden arriving around 8.30pm. Sorted rooms, waited for Box who finally arrived at 12.30 Monday morning – the others in his party had gone to Cambridge. Again, no point in him going there and then coming back the next day.
So, the silver lining for both of us was that instead of having only 21 hours together after 37 years, we had 34. By the time we’d stopped hugging and chatting, laughing and saying, ‘Oh my God, how long has it been?’ it was 4.00 a.m., and I’d had three hours sleep in the last 48, but I didn’t care.
Now then, the story of ‘Cox and Box’ (or ‘The long lost brothers’ as it’s subtitled) is that these two men share a room without realising it. The landlord, Bouncer, has kept them apart until they meet, and the farce ensues. The irony here was that Cox and Box were finally sharing the same room knowingly. (Earplugs in as Box snores.) Sleep at 4.00, awake at 7.00 as I’d forgotten to turn my alarm off, and one of the best days ever followed. More coincidences came into the script: We’d lost touch at 18, but he’d lived 20 miles away from me in the Lake District for a while, and two miles away from me in London where we went to universities that shared some campus space, he’d been in Brighton for a while about the same time as me… Anyway, there we were, reunited and behaving like teenagers again.
But more about that tomorrow as you’ll be getting reader fatigue now. By the way. Many of these photos were taken on my new phone, hence they are blurred and I’d not got the hang of selfies.