Thursday, 17 April 2008

A Marathon Day (Part Three)

The Long Way Home.

Muscular Dystrophy had arranged a reception for those runners running to raise money for the charity. It was held at Westminster Central Hall, a building I have been to and worked in many times. We crossed Parliament Square and walked along side the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, which took us over one of the worst things you can inflict on a wheelchair user - cobbles. Every turn of the wheels results in teeth-shattering, bone jarring misery. They might look quaint and olde-worlde but any architect or planner who wilfully designs them into their landscaping should be made to sit in a wheelchair and rolled over them for a while. Once they have collected up the bits of wheelchair that have shaken loose they will almost certainly appreciate the merits of Tar-Mac.

The reception was held in the basement of the labyrinthine building and when we eventually found it we settled down to wait for Polly and Anna. We didn't have long to wait, they arrived flushed and exhausted, proudly wearing their medals and after receiving a huge cheer from the gathered supporters settled down to a plate of spagetti bolognaise and a sports massage. Anna went off with her family and Polly, Darren, Paul and I headed for home.

We negotiated the three lifts at Westminster station and hopped onto the Jubilee line. (We were getting quite slick at this underground lark by now). To be honest Polly didn't so much hop as hobble. Checking that there was a disabled access sign, we alighted at Waterloo and followed the signs for the Northern line. We navigated a maze of tunnels and moving walkways until we came to a dead end. Puzzled, we pressed the conveniently placed assistance button on an intercom that connected directly to customer services and were told that there was no wheelchair accessible route between the Jubilee and Northern lines. Wait a sec`, the Northern Line is wheelchair accessible? Yes. And the Jubilee line is wheelchair accessible? Yes. But you can't get from one line to the other? No. Now I know it's been a long time since my O level maths but unless there has been a huge revision of the rules of topology then that makes no sense. Er... ? So we retraced our way back through the maze, with Polly moaning that she'd already run more than 26 miles today and that this was the last bloody straw. Defeated, we limped back on to the Jubilee line (we'd given up on hopping) and made our way back to London Bridge.

We eventually made it home and Paul and Darren took their leave. Exhaustion and post-race anti-climax left Polly looking a little dejected. I asked her what the matter was. She was a bit disappointed with her time of 6 hours 13 minutes. I pointed out that the last week had hardly been ideal preparation for such a marathon event and that there were several thousand runners behind her. Suddenly she smiled. I did beat the man dressed as a McCain's oven chip!

Epilogue

That night Polly and I slept soundly. Ha!

That was the night of all nights that the air mattress on my bed chose to break down. We were greeted by the sound of a concrete mixer crossed with a pressure hose. The pump was labouring fruitlessly to inflate the mattress and was glowing red hot. I spent the night on the metal frame whilst Polly had to move me intermittently. How we laughed.