Friday, 12 March 2010

Train times

Ah, trains.  Trains, trains, trains.

There was a family of trolls on the train home earlier this week.  It was a commuter train, packed to the roof with tired grey-faced business types, all trying to sleep or read or faff about on their laptops. 

Sleeping is difficult.  For a start there isn't much space, so you can't relax physically.  I am quite tall, so end  up with my legs squashed against the back of the seat in front if I don't pick my position carefully.  Then there is the head issue.  What do you do with it?  If you just lean back on the seat (a challenge in itself if you are at all fastidious about rubbing your hair in unknown filth) you may start drooling or snorting.  If you let it loll forwards you run the risk of waking up with a loud grunt every ten minutes. 

Such a problem.

So, if I can get a seat by the window I do, and then try to lean on it and doze as best I can.  However, every time a train  goes past in the opposite direction it makes the window go "Whooomph!" which wakes me up.  Sometimes the shock is sufficient to bounce my head on the glass with an audible clonking noise.  I have to then either pretend to still be asleep to hide my chagrin, or just wake up and brazen it out by pretending that I'm not bovvered.

Luckily I have a great internal voice which lies to me.  It usually says "It's ok, nobody noticed."  It says that a lot.  I have to pretend to believe it. 

Anyway.  The trolls.  There were many of them.  Oh, soooo many.  They got on at (I think) Basingstoke, in a huddled chattery gang, dragging enormous bundles and cases with them.  The lead troll, a woman of indeterminate age with bright ginger hair, was organising them.  She fussed and chattered without stopping for about 45 minutes. 

"Come on, sit here.  Sit down, just here.  No, HERE.  Where's your bag?  *tch*  Give it here.  I said GIVE IT HERE.  I'll put it away for you."

She'd then stagger down the carriage dragging the bag, walloping people with it as she went, stuff it into the luggage area, then make her unsteady way back to her shuffling, fidgeting troll bretheren.  Then it would all start again with the next one.

"You sit here.  No you can't sit over there.  There's someone already sat there.  Yes there is.  Look, there.  THERE.  That man there *pointing at some crimson-faced inoffensive commuter trying to read his book* You can't sit there.  Just sit down here.  SIT DOWN."

I can only assume it was some sort of outing for the Terminally Bewildered. 

And so the long journey wore on. 

Things took a different turn yesterday.  My, what a day that was.

As we approached Basingstoke, the loudspeaker crackled:

"This is the driver speaking.  Would the guard please make their way to the driver immediately.  Immediately please."

Everyone perked up, wondering what was going on.  Had we been hijacked?  Was a crazed gun-toting desperado trying to take the train to Cuba?  I for one hoped so. 

After a few minutes there was another announcement from the driver.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am sorry to tell you that this train is now cancelled.  We will be terminating this train at Basingstoke."


There then followed a long and detailed itinerary of all the other trains which were going to London from Basingstoke, what times they'd be running, what platforms they'd be using, and how many stops they were going to make before getting to Waterloo. 

Few people even pretended to be paying attention, they were fighting to get their coats on, and pack up all their stuff.  When the train stopped, we all got off and stood stupidly on the platform.  I was half expecting a few railway employees with large brooms to come and shoo us away. 

"Come along now *tchook  tchook*  Off to Platform Three with you..."

There was a disagreeable 20 minute wait in the cold, then a small local sprinter type train pulled up and we all crammed aboard.  There were very few seats, so most of us stood crammed together in the middle of the carriage, pretending not to mind.  I was lucky enough to grab a seat at Woking when some people disembarked, but even so it was very unpleasant.

I arrived into the office almost an hour late, which is impressive given that I don't usually get there till half nine anyway. I checked the train times online every hour or so as the day went on, ready to leg it out the door if there looked like being any more problems.  Fortunately, ther problem, whatever it was, had been resolved by mid-afternoon.  I left the office at about 5, planning to saunter back to the station and catch the ten to six train.  The Tube gods were on my side though, and I made it in time to leap aboard the twenty past five with two minutes to spare. 

What a schoolboy error that was.

Of course, there was not a seat to be had.  Even the little fold-down seats in the corridors were all fully occupied, and I ended up standing in the gap between two carriages, along with half a dozen other people, all trying to keep our feet as the train joggled along.

It alternated between baking hot and stuffy, and chill winds blowing through the rubber seals, bringing plenty of diesel fumes with them.  Nice.

After half an hour or so of this I realised that I was feeling dizzy, and of course, as soon as I realised that, I felt worse and worse.  I got queasy, and trembly. Cold sweat began to make itself felt, and I knew if I didn't sit down I would probably swoon dramatically all over the annoying yuppies to my right. 

There was absolutely nowhere to sit, so I just slid down onto the floor, filthy as it was, and hoped I'd feel better.  It helped, but I was still feeling ropy when we got to the first stop and a few people got off the train.  I was able to grab one of the little fold down seats and perched there for another 45 minutes or so.  Finally I was able to sit on a proper seat for the last half an hour of the journey, and was still feeling shaky when I got off the train.

I pay almost five thousand pounds a year for this.

Aren't I lucky?


badgerdaddy said...

I'd not noticed it before, but that's an impressive spankling of bluebells in your picture of the woods, by which you live.

@eloh said...

I'd say good choice in sliding down into the filth... better than bashing your head into it.

You've mentioned before how terribly expensive your train pass costs each year... you would think that the occasional troll would be the worst of it.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

I am so glad I don't commute. I just saw a video on YouTube where some old man got in a fight with another guy on a bus (I think they were in Oakland) and I am so glad I have a car and can clog up the freeway along with a million other bozos....but at least I have a seat and control the radio.

Trolls are such bad bad you couldn't turn them into stone.

livesbythewoods said...

badgerdaddy, yes, they are glorious. I may even take some more pictures when the bluebells come out this year.

eloh, yes, that was my reasoning too. And for the money I pay I should get my own train. It's a personal bugbear I have.

HHS, I used to grumble about my 30 mile drive to the office. Now I look back and sigh with happy nostalgia.

Trolls are all complete bastards.