It is true; it’s inevitable that your suitcase will take on the character of a (devil) child – even more so if it’s packed so full that it weighs the same as one. Think of your packing as sweet ingredients; the more e numbers and sugar goes into the sweet, the more wild your child may become. It is the same with a suitcase… honest…
It will refuse to move unless it’s hauled along with all your might, and even then it inevitably insists on dragging its heels. It moans and groans when it’s forced anywhere, and you simply have to grit your teeth and ignore it. Sometimes the whines get so intense, that you have stranger’s mouths turning into the shape of cat’s bums and shaking their heads. The only justifiable response to this is an apologetic half-smile, which does little to rectify the issue. It refuses to stand up straight on the bus, it’s partial to falling over, leading to a nasty bang on the floor and, if your luck is wicked enough, hitting an old lady.
You may think your misfortune is over when you get to the train station, but oh no, you still have the footbridge to cross over. Take the lift, and you’re pretty safe. Take the stairs, and you enter a new realm of trouble. Other student parents and suitcase children hustle up the same metre-wide staircase, yours is pushed and shoved by theirs and it reacts by stumbling down a few steps, and so on. Once over the bridge, there is a momentary lapse of these wayward behaviours whilst you breathe a sigh of relief. But this really is temporary – as the battle to get onto the vehicle is an effort in itself. Who would have thought a few inch gap could lead to such a dilemma? With the plethora of suitcase children surrounding you whilst yours needs an extra push, it can lead to an anxious sweatfest, and a scolding is on the cards when you eventually get to your seat. If there’s no space in the pen, you shove it under the table or use it as a foot rest, which is about the most useful thing it does all day.
The majority of the difficulties are over, apart from the tube transitions. Any previous issues that have occurred up until now are merely amplified in the claustrophobic heat of the stinky tunnels. Everyone seems to have a smaller, quieter and generally better behaved suitcase than yours, and the ease to which they navigate the labyrinthine network of passageways leaves you with a prick of envy. Parent students with suitcase children are commanded to stay on the right of the escalators, which still manage to get in the way of high-speed business people who growl as they swing their trench coat over your belongings.
You reach the dreaded ticket barriers, and of course, there is no way, with throngs of people breathing down your neck, that you manage to squeeze through with your suitcase child in tow with ease. You either end up crushing your arm in the process or leaving your case the other side. People behind you either begrudgingly chuck it over with no consideration for its valuable contents, or pretend they haven’t noticed your misfortune and rush over to another barrier.
Once on your final train – probably wishing you’d worn a sports bra and brought a headband to soak up those beads of sweat that reside on your brow – you can congratulate yourself for getting this far. Now it’s time to phone Mum to beg for a lift home from the station, put your orders in for dinner and get your sky plus recording schedule planned. See, the journey wasn’t so bad, was it?