I stepped off the train this morning and onto the escalator. As I ascended into Grand Central / New Street Station (Is it a shopping centre? Is it a train station? Both!) and I became aware of the wonderful sounds of string instruments. It was somewhat ethereal.
My fellow commuters briefly snapped out of their Monday morning depression and had similar quizzical looks as we tried to work out the source of the grand music.
I had to pass through two ticket barriers and so I removed the annual ticket from its small photo ID wallet and fed it into the slot in the barrier which quickly snatched it from my hand and then spat it out at the top of the barrier. Upon retrieving it, the gate opened and I stepped through.
I let the sounds of the music guide me to a central area of Grand Central/New Street Station to find a group of commuters watching a string quartet playing the dramatic Game Of Thrones theme tune. It was a promotional thing for the new series that has started. When they finished, they started again and I then noticed that the musicians, despite playing the music to absolute perfection, looked like they were slowly dying inside. From a distance they were playing with exuberance but their eyes betrayed them. All four of them looked like they were so bored of this same tune that they had been playing over and over since perhaps 7.30AM and were due to continue to play over and over until well after rush hour.
I thought that it was kind of like doing lines at school as a punishment. But instead of writing, “Santa Claus is not evil and I have no need to defend myself against him,” the music teacher has said, “You will play the entire theme tune for Game Of Thrones for two and a half hours!”
After hearing the tune for the second time and then after a two second break before they started again, I headed for the second ticket barrier to get to platform 5.
But where was my ticket? I had it just a couple of minutes ago. I checked my pockets, my man bag, my pockets, the pockets of my man bag, my pockets, my man bag pockets again, my back pocket, my man bag again and finally my pockets. Nothing.
Panicked, I saw two sweepers chatting so I asked them if anyone had handed them a pass. “Check lost property,” one said pointing to the sign for “Lost Luggage.” In there I was greeted by a chap in his early twenties who looked like he was fighting to keep awake. Sitting slouched feeling sorry for himself, he was either tired from the early start or the continuing sound of the Game Of Thrones theme tune was really starting to get to him.
My pass, much like his enthusiasm, his hopes and dreams, wasn’t there.
This was not a good start to the week. That bloody music didn’t help either! It only amplified the very dramatic situation I had found myself in.
I emptied my pockets and bag of their entire contents in a quiet little corner because, despite checking these twenty times previously, you never know.
So with the sixth rendition of the Game Of Thrones theme tune, I thought I would ask the two chaps at the gate I had passed through first.
With desperation I asked one of them, let’s call him Vikram, “Excuse me, has anyone handed in a lost train pass within the last 5 minutes?” “What’s the name?” he asked. “Grump,”* I replied. “Grump,” he whispered. I wondered if my notoriety had reached these shopping centre / public transport kingdoms. Damn it, I was starting to even think like a bloody Game Of Thrones character.
He strolled over to a little cupboard and opened it up. He removed a pass and opened it. Lo and behold, in time with a very dramatic part of the seventh version of the Game Of Thrones theme tune, I saw the photo ID card, that familiar bald, dome shaped head and miserable face that I see in the mirror on a daily basis. “That’s it!” I said.
“Nah, it’s a different name,” said Vikram. Was this guy serious? I had told him the name and he had repeated it to me. “Grump!” I repeated with an obvious air of frustration. If only I had my bloody broadsword. “G. R. U. M. P. Grump!” I said with a raised voice. Still Vikram looked at the pass, with my name on it, clearly written in block capital letters, but he still wasn’t convinced.
The music reached another swell as I pointed to the pass, to the one obvious thing about it that could surely end all this confusion. “You see that? That’s a picture of my face!” I said clearly on the brink of going full-on barbarian any second. My weapon? Forget a broadsword or axe. I’ve got a man-bag.
“Oh, yeah, right,” said Vikram, finally handing the pass to me. I thanked him because I was brought up with manners, and relieved that the drama was now over and grateful that a good willed person handed the pass in, I set off to miss my train and escape the eighth rendition of the Game Of Thrones theme tune.
On the later train heading to work, I suddenly found myself humming the bloody theme tune. It had become my ear-worm and would continue to haunt me over and over and over.
Bloody Game Of Thrones. I don’t even watch it!
* Please note that the author’s real name isn’t Grump. He has a secret identity to protect!
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