We got stuck on a Eurostar train for over nine hours, resulting in a journey from London to Paris which took eighteen hours. Making the best of a bad situation, we drank all the booze on board, took some photos and wrote these words.
Floating faces illuminated by bright white lights, half lit cigarettes glowing in the distance, neon green glow sticks scattered around carriages, a lonely laptop lighting up the bar, handing out karaoke lyrics for the half cut party people, elderly members dehydrated beyond repair left waiting in their seats expecting good news.
None came. Darkness fell fast and consumed us all into chaos, free champagne and wine gave us hope that the train would continue in the right direction, but we reversed and found ourselves treading in dog shit queueing for a lift to the platform which held a train heading back to London. Thirty minutes spent considering every option to find our way home: taxis; parents driving three hours to pick us up; bunking in a hotel to get the first train to Paris in the morning; hire cars; sleeping in Calais to wait for a bus that would take longer than the return trip to London and back to Paris again. Speculative answers from speculatively uniformed staff, debating what to do on a phone with 3% battery, everyone there craving their home and being unfairly denied.
So many sleeping heads. I’m still drunk and awake and typing this on my phone that’s charging from a laptop that doesn’t belong to me, afraid to stir the nodding heads, feeling alone but holding strong to find our place in line for the replacement train when we arrive at Kings Cross. Debating whether to head home for forty winks, would it be worth the money in the dead of night? Let’s just hold out and get to Paris in good time tomorrow, don’t want to waste anymore time, belly full of tingly champagne, warm beer, cheap wine and stale air, hoping sleep will wash it all away. Fuck you Eurostar.
There are some photos. Some so blurry you can feel the humidity of human heat on the lens. Some so crisp I wonder why I don’t yet own a flash, some that look like an early morning sunrise but taken in the dead of night, and a tonne that didn’t even make it past the Lightroom floor. See for yourself and next time you want a romantic weekend in Paris, reconsider flying with EasyJet.
Words and photos: Will Sleigh