Last night I was to present my story to the London branch of the Western Front Association. When gave the London cab driver the name of the venue, he entered it into his GPS and off we went. I was going over my speech and didn't pay particular attention to where we were going - even if I did it would not have helped since I don't know my way around anyway.
We left our hotel early and thankfully so because with rush hour traffic in London so it took almost two hours to arrive at the wrong place. I didn't know that there was two Barley Mows and of the two we were dropped off at the wrong one.
Our cellphones were not equipped to be used internationally so they were of no use. Luck would have it that a friendly Londoner was coming out of a building and my wife asked if he know where the Western Front was meeting. Even though he didn't, he took the time to look up the information on his phone. I must say that everyone we have met while we've been here has been friendly and willing to help us beyond what I would expect. The gentleman suggested that we flag down a black cab and give him the address information he obtained from his phone search, then used Google maps to determine how long it would take us to get from where we were to the correct venue - if we caught a cab immediately - which we didn't.
As we ran down the street trying to locate a cab, which are usually everywhere, not one was to be found. My lovely wife would stop and ask for information from others on the street and found out that we were near a train station and there would be cabs there.
Walking at a fast panic pace, we arrived at the station without spotting a cab that didn't already have a passenger. Nothing was working out until fortune would have it an empty cab came by. We hailed him down.then explained out misfortune and asked if he could get us to the correct location as quickly as possible, which he did, but it was too late.
We arrived at the meeting as it was breaking up, so I was unable to give the speech I had been working on for months. I introduced myself to Tom Thorpe, the chair, and explained our failed attempt. He was apologetic - fancy that! He introduced us to some of the people still at the meeting, then invited us to join them for a drink so they could get to know us.
I presented some parts of my speech when they asked questions. An older gentleman sitting next to me, his name was Charles - I believe he was the same Charles that turned down writing my book's foreword. He was very pleasant chap and was interested in several of the documents I had brought with me, some items he had not seen before so he was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps he would have written the foreword if we would have had a chance to meet.
The others were very pleasant individuals that were truly interested in what I had to say. Tom even wanted me to return next summer and give my speech. In fact, he and the others offered to take us over to the battle fields in France to show us around. There were two ladies that I didn't get a chance to talk to, but my wife Lynne did and they befriended her like old friends. One of the ladies worked for a large London newspaper and reviewed books - Tom suggested I get to know her. They all wanted to meet with us again so we made plans to meet at 6:30 pm on Monday.
So even though my big moment was a disappointment, the night wasn't a total bust. I believe we have met kindred souls that seem more than please to help me in anyway they can to launch my book.
Perhaps God opens a window when he shuts a door.