Stories of the stranded

Random people thrown together - and who knows what might happen?

Writing prompts don’t come much better than volcano week

There’s the girl who was at the end of a three-month trip from Australia and couldn’t get her flight home. She’d run out of money when a complete stranger offered her a flat to stay in – which belonged to his parents, who were stranded on the other side of the world in Argentina. There’s the DJ who flew to an oil rig for one evening to do a gig and five days later was still stuck there. There’s the couple who should have been in Las Vegas getting married and had now decided to improvise a wedding in London.

Then there are the people I know personally. Tim, who went to Helsinki on business and has been tweeting his progress as he tries to return home overland. Ian, who drove his French guest to a midnight rendezvous with a long-distance lorry driver on the farthest reaches of the M25, so that she could ride back home.

A puff of volcanic ash has generated millions of adventures, aside from the effects on those in its immediate vicinity. Anyone who was not in their own country has been forced to beg, steal, borrow, make alliances with strangers, find ways to endure mind-numbing journeys that go on for days – and improvise. The week the planes stood still. It’s like a disaster movie, only with less disaster.  

The third week of April 2010 is unlikely to go down in history as travellers’ favourite time. But in years to come, it will definitely be a favourite for storytellers.

What’s your favourite story of stranded travellers?

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  1. #1 by Paulo Campos on April 20, 2010 - 11:31 pm

    Hi Roz,

    Great idea! It won’t be long before we see lots of accounts like you’ve got here.

    What came to mind isn’t a story of my own but a lovely (& creepy) animated short (an honorable mention for the Oscars a few years ago) about what happens on a stalled train. It’s called Madame Tutli-Putli. I love passing this on.

    If you’ve got 18:00, check it out:

  2. #2 by Jemi Fraser on April 21, 2010 - 12:27 am

    I have a few people I know who are stranded too, although they’ve all found places to stay. Thankfully. It will certainly be interesting to see what stories are created around this.

  3. #3 by e.lee on April 21, 2010 - 2:26 pm

    ‘Lost In Translation’ but the characters are stranded in a very metaphorical sense

  4. #4 by Roz Morris on April 21, 2010 - 4:29 pm

    @Paulo – loved that link! I’ll be passing it on too.
    @Jemi – interesting times, eh?
    @e.lee – terrific film. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. #5 by Dave Morris on April 21, 2010 - 4:58 pm

    Of course, we find the set-up of most disaster movies appealing (even when the movie itself is a disappointment) because they are built around classical unities of time and place. Other enjoyable stories of the stranded: The Tempest, Doc Hollywood, My Cousin Vinny, Psycho, Cars, Forbidden Planet, The Out-of-Towners, and the first-ever Dalek story (that pesky fluid link…).

  6. #6 by Cat Woods on April 21, 2010 - 6:22 pm

    I have nothing further to add to the list of stories. However, I think Dave has it right when he says it is a unifying event–regardless of cause–that creates such wonderful scenes for movies and novels.

    Because of the Children’s Blizzard in the 1800’s, there are more snow stories blowing across the plains of SD than there are plot bunnies.

  7. #7 by Janna Qualman on April 21, 2010 - 9:36 pm

    You’re right, that’s writer’s gold! Still so sorry, though, for all those stranded.

    • #8 by Roz Morris on April 21, 2010 - 10:04 pm

      @Janna – yes, perhaps we shouldn’t show them this… many a writer over the years has been told off for heartless curiosity!

  8. #9 by Dominique on April 22, 2010 - 4:06 am

    Oh, getting stranded is the best (for a story).

    All the characters start feeling confused and stressed and all these new emotions start spouting out. Really gets the plot moving.

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