Observations from last night’s journey:
- “We apologise for the delay to this train”. guh.
- “This train is formed of eight coaches. Customers for Ford, Amberley, Billingshurst and Christ’s Hospital must travel in the front four coaches of this train. This is due to short platforms at these stations.” Sometimes our railways seem so amateurish.
- At Ford, a woman in her late teens, smartly dressed, standing on the opposite platform, stood poking her tongue out at the train as it pulled away from her. Why?
- The bottom end of platform 19 at Victoria really is the back end of beyond. You expect an announcement like this:
Back End of Beyond, this is Back End of Beyond. Change here for services to Middle of Nowhere, Timbuktu and the Arse End Of Civilisation. We apologise for the lack of lighting, the bare concrete walls and the dysfunctional information monitors in this part of the station. This is due to the fact that we really don’t care.
- In Lush, the assistant apologises, as she giftwraps a small present, for not having “one I made earlier, Blue Peter stylee. And I’ve only got Sellotape – they don’t issue us with sticky-backed plastic”.
- At Tottenham Court Road, a man lays on the platform having clearly collapsed. A uniformed London Underground employee stands over him, radio in hand, calling for a paramedic. But in spite of this, the man is holding a perfectly normal conversation with his wife.
- At Oxford Circus, a bellowed announcement: “Keep away from the platform edge, BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE!!!!” The platform is nearly empty. People cower in the shadows for fear of incurring the wrath of the Mighty Station Announcer Who Must Be Obeyed.
- Overheard snatch of conversation: “well, I was fine until I was charged with assault under their anti-bullying policies, and then I became persona non grata.”
- Outside of Hassocks, the train pulls to a halt. And waits. And waits. The silence is only broken by the rain lashing against the window.
Ladies and gentlemen, the train has come to a halt at a red signal. I will endeavour to find out why there is a red signal.
Ladies and gentlemen, neither the driver nor myself know why there is a red signal. As soon as I get any information, I’ll let you know.
[…long pause…the train moves off…]
Ladies and gentlemen, apparently there was a signal fault and that is why there was a red signal. But we have passed it now, so shall be on our way.
Why didn’t this announcement reassure me?
- Beyond Durrington, a security guard walks through the now deserted train, spots my mobile phone on the seat next to me and says “You don’t want to leave that there, someone will nick it.” My reply: Um, like who? There is nobody in the carriage other than you and me.
- The streets of Chichester, slick with rainwater, almost deserted. Two couples walking down South Street, one of the women is carrying a red spangly pompom. One of the men calls to me “Mate, would you call that thing a pompom?”
I reply in the affirmative. They all burst out laughing and continue walking.
At the Cross, a group of six or seven Spanish students laugh and swap jokes, probably wondering why English licensing laws are so backward.
- At home, quiet emptiness. No welcoming arms. Not even a cat wrapping itself around my feet. So to bed.