The Redster: Three years and eleven months
Babeling: Nine months

A different form of transport

Babymother: Thank you. Thank you.
*More applause*
Babymother: Thank you. Thank you so much.
*Applause finally dies down*

BM: Thank you. I really could not have done this journey alone. No really. I have so many people to thank. Where to start? Well, specifically, on a train that should have got me to Gare du Nord in plenty of time to catch the Eurostar, but unaccountably turned back on itself three quarters of the way there.

Still, I would very much like to thank:

That nice man on the wrong platform of the SNCF station who pointed me to the right platform, and then carried one end of the buggy down two flights of steps and up two flights of steps without putting it down in between. Shame that I missed a train in the meantime.

The nice man who I asked directions from at St Lazare, and who took us (via a long flight of stairs) to the lift for the right platform. The Redster did her best to keep up. The lift wasn’t working. You then gallantly took me to the platform by helping lift the buggy down another long flight of stairs.

The Redster, who needed the toilet but agreed to cross her legs.

The nice English-speaking lady on the way to Gare du Nord who reassured me that we could still possibly catch our Eurostar train even though there was only twenty minutes to go. I asked you the way and you decided to get us there if it killed you. You wore my backpack and we ran the whole way (between escalators) to the Eurostar check-in. I’m extremely grateful. The check-in was closed.

The Redster, who had to run full pelt with a full bladder and didn’t throw herself onto the floor and wail.

The nice people at Eurostar who allowed us to be booked onto the next train at no extra cost. You also did your best to find seats for me and the Redster in the same carriage. Shame there weren’t any.

The Redster, who managed to keep her legs crossed while we queued for new tickets and went through the check-in and security.

The French security bloke who allowed me to wheel the buggy through security without being x-rayed or metal-detected. (I couldn’t help thinking of all the things I could have been concealing under the babeling’s blanket, but never mind.)

The nice English woman we met in the toilets who said she’d help us onto the train. You helped us onto coach 17 and when we heard there were two seats together on coach 5 you got us off the train and sprinted down the platform with us, with seconds to go, leaving your luggage back in 17. Hope your luggage was still there when you got back.

The nice South African women behind us on the train who held a bewildered babeling for me at least twice.

The nice Japanese tourists in front who made beautiful origami trinkets for the Redster throughout the journey. At least you received a torn piece of paper that the Redster had scribbled on and folded in half to take back to Japan.

Babyfather, who met us at Waterloo and relieved me of my enormous backpack.

The bloke who found the Redster’s fleece after we dropped it at Finsbury Park.

The Redster, who didn’t have a tantrum until we got home.

The babeling, who was didn’t lose it until the last ten minutes, which after six hours and seven trains is pretty impressive.

Society is not dead. Either that, or there’s something about the sight of a weedy and dishevelled woman with a large backpack pushing a buggy and towing a three-year-old that inspires people to help. I even never had to wait at the bottom of steps and look around for help – someone was always at hand, offering.

Thank you, and goodnight.