It should have been a quiet day at home. We have some guests here staying for four days, and this is their third day, so no room cleaning or bed linen to change. I planned to do some writing, a dark load in the washing machine, and a few other things round the house. Over breakfast we were talking with our guests about what they had been doing and where else they might like to visit while they were here. Among other things we were able to recommend a visit to our favourite bus stop…
‘Kirunacomfy’ is a bus stop on a road out of town, and on a route where there are very few buses – actually none at all in the winter, and only a couple a day in the summer. So as the waits for a bus can be long, someone seems to have decided that the answer was to install a comfortable sofa. We first noticed it in 2007, and when we returned to Kiruna in 2012 we were delighted to see that, not only was it still there, but it was in good condition. (We recently created a Facebook page for it, but it has been hard to drum up interest – only 2 likes so far.)
Exposed to arctic weather and covered in snow piles all winter, this is a sofa with staying-power. We think it might be in the IKEA range and is no doubt now a defunct model, which is a shame since it would make a great advertising picture for durable sofas. It’s still comfortable too. Once we saw a cyclist racing by, and when we passed again a few hours later the cyclist appeared to be sleeping on it, presumably before continuing his journey.
We described all this to our guests, and they were amused enough by the idea to add it to their list of possible things to do. As they were walking upstairs Rolf saw our neighbour standing outside and went out to give her a present for her 80th birthday. I joined them and she invited us in for a coffee. While watching our guests prepare to leave, our neighbour poured us out some more coffee. A pleasant half hour passed before we decided we had things to do. We said goodbye to our neighbour and walked back to the house. It wasn’t until we were right up at the front door we realised that neither of us had a key, and our well-behaved guests had of course locked the door before they went out. Apart from not having the house key we also didn’t have the car key, a phone, any money, or a coat. No-one else had our key and we didn’t know when our guests would return. Deep breath.
There was nowhere in town to go (it was Sunday), and in any case we didn’t have any money. We contemplated the prospect of spending the next six hours in the garage, exercising to keep warm. Then we considered breaking into the house. Unfortunately triple glazing is rather good for security, and windows might be very hard to get repaired later.
Our only hope was to try and contact our guests. We knew if we could access the internet we would find their phone number on an email. At least we would then know how long we’d have to wait. So we asked our neighbour (no internet) to call her son and ask if we could use his computer. Fortunately her son was in, and the issue of how to get there in the cold and snow was solved by our neighbour suggesting we take her car… (Car? What car? We didn’t know she had a car. We didn’t even know she had a garage.) So we drove to her son’s flat, where we interrupted his quiet Sunday afternoon (minding three children and two cats while writing a script for a horror film) and found the all-important Swiss mobile phone number.
I tapped in the number and waited for a reply. I had to wait so long for a reply I imagined they’d left the phone in the car and gone on a long hike, or maybe the phone was still in their flat in Switzerland. Then someone replied and I began my long explanation of why I was calling. I discovered that they were, at that moment, at the bus stop. ‘Don’t move,’ I cried, ‘we’re on our way!’
The bus stop is on an empty road where there’s a lot of snow and birch scrub and views of distant mountains. After ten minutes’ driving we saw the stop in the distance, looking as if it had just dropped from the sky. Our guests’ car was parked in the lay-by opposite, and a camera on a tripod had been set up, pointing at the bus stop’s sofa. They were filming there, and this apparently involved beer cans, an alarm clock, and two of them wearing shorts and a tank top (well, it was a warm minus 5 degrees). This, we decided, was none one of our business, so we just collected the key, thankfully, and drove back to Kiruna.
Now, what was it I’d planned to do today?