Thursday, March 15, 2007

8. Ten minutes to go

If there was to be a solution, it was no longer to be found in this car. I looked down the road and spotted a taxi stand by the local railway station. I jumped out, leaving Leopold still trying to re-animate his dead vehicle. I ran across the oncoming traffic and down the road. The taxi driver was completely bewildered when I told him I wanted a ride to Leopold’s car 50 meters away. He pulled up beside Leopold. I transferred the hologram display to the back of the taxi as Leopold pushed his car off to the side of the road. It was 14.50. We had 10 minutes.

I told the taxi driver that we needed to get to Lange Voorhout for 15.00. He gave a wry smile. I don’t think so, he said. It’s Horse Week. It’s Horse Week. I had no idea what he was talking about.

Palace on Lange Voorhout
Well, he explained, for most of the year, Lange Voorhout is quite accessible but this particular week – Horse Week - the whole area is closed off for special events and market stalls selling horse-related equipment. If we had yet still not gathered the significance of this fact, he added, “there are thousands of people in the square right now.”
As if to prove his point, he turned a corner and we were confronted with a wall of horse-loving people milling around scores of shops selling saddles and boots and hats and stirrups. “Lange Voorhout is over there” he said, pointing some distance away over the heads of the throngs. “This is as far as I can go”.

We climbed out. Leopold took the display and carried it above his head as I pushed through the mass of people, repeating incessantly “Excuse me. Coming through”.

It seemed to take forever but we made progress centimetre by centimetre. And then there was no more people in front of us, just a long red carpet leading up to a large impressive door. A policeman came forward and asked what we were doing. Leopold, still with the holographic display above his head urged me to take the invitation out of his inside pocket.

I presented it to the policeman who seemed suitably impressed and led us through the cordon and up the steps to the front door. He even rang the bell for us.

The door opened and a butler stood there staring at us. “Can I help you?” he asked. “Yes.”I answered ”We have an appointment with Her Majesty at 15.00” as I pushed the Invitation towards him.
“Please come in” he replied. It was 14.59. Honestly.

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