For work connected reasons, I have been down in London three times in as many weeks. I had originally planned to fly from Frankfurt to Edinburgh but decided instead to fly into London's City Airport and go to a Xmas party.
My husband met me at the airport. We were to do a very daring thing - have a night away from the children. This was the first night we have spent together and away from the children for three and a half years. (When we went away then, it was for a weekend in a Brighton hotel and we missed them so much we came back early. Even so, we had spent the entire time mooching round toy shops saying "Oooh, let's buy that. They'd love it.") On Wednesday night, my husband said: "We don't need a cab. We'll walk." I did not think that boded well. He took my laptop and I pulled my little case on wheels along the narrow pavements, past the parked cars captive behind metal railings with the Docklands Light Railway track louring above us. My husband pointed to a neon lit sign some way ahead - "City Airport Travelodge". I stopped to consider our journey's destination. I said: "So we are staying at the Travelodge?" He said: "Yes, you said you wanted somewhere convenient and it's only £70." I tugged my wheely case off the pavement and towards the brightly lit entrance. I said: "We've been together for 19 years and sometimes I don't think you know me at all." He said: "Well, this is what I do when I come to London." I said: "And whose fault is that?"
He checked us in; I walked across to the vending machine in the foyer, put in a pound coin and a diet coke slammed into the drawer. I thought: "I think I need more than a diet coke." We took the lift up to the room and pushed open the door as a plane taxied past the window. I heard a roaring noise. I think it was a plane. There is a chance it was the blood in my ears. I put down the case on the floor beside the wardrobe and my handbag on the table in front of the mirror and cracked open the diet coke. It did not make me feel better. I put the kettle on and made a cup of tea. It did not make me feel better. I pulled the pillow length ways so that I could lean against it and sank into the bed. My husband lay down next to me. The weight of his body tipping me into him. I thought: "Could the bed be made of sponge I wonder?" I thought: "It is not so much the wallow in the mattress or the sound of planes or the fact its location seems so desolate - it is more that he thinks that this is what I am worth, what I deserve." I said: "This - is our first night away together in three and a half years and you have brought me to City Airport's Travelodge. The thing I want to do most of all right now, is cry."
I started getting ready for the party and he slipped out. I thought: "Maybe I'm tired from travelling. Maybe it's alright. I'll just get drunk at the party and when I get back, it won't seem so bad." My husband came back into the bedroom, his phone in his hand. He said: "OK I've booked the Savoy. Shall we go now?"