Saturday, 9 April 2011

Serious vs. Normal

Blimey I'm tired.  Yes, yes.  I know it's Saturday morning, and the sun is out, and the birds are tweeting cheerfully.  I should be bursting forth into the world with a spring in my step and a song on my lips.  But really.  No.  Just no. 

I wish I had a dazzling array of adventures to relate, explanations for being so exhausted, but I've got nothing.  NOTHING.  It's all down to work, boringly.  And train fuckwittery, so nothing new there. 

As a result of me being asked to help out with a couple of short term projects, I had to change my working pattern, and go up to London for 3 days in a row.  I hate doing that.  My working week is usually 2 days in London, a day working at home, another day in London, then the final day at home.  I can cope with that reasonably well, although by the end of the second day in London I am washed out.  Having to get up at 5.45, do my usual 3 hour commute to the office, do some pretty intensive stuff all day long, then travel 3 hours home, only to get up and do it again for 3 days in a row was a stretch. 

Things weren't helped by the massive - yes I mean MASSIVE - fuck up on the trains on Wednesday night.  I got to Waterloo in time to hop onto the 1750 train, which usually gets me home by 8pm, all being well.

All was not well.

On arrival at the bustling concourse* I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of hundreds, possibly thousands, hell, maybe a million people, all standing transfixed like zombies, staring up at the array of screens.  Usually the screens are populated with information about which train is going where and when, all that stuff. Wednesday night, however, was different.  Only three of the boards were populated, and they showed local trains.  The other dozen or so were ominously blank. 

The little teeny TV screen in the middle of the board had a scrolling message, running in an endless, heartbreaking loop.

"Anyone who wishes to travel to the West of England, please take the first train to Basingstoke and change there."

Well arse biscuits.

I ran** onto the platform where the Basingstoke train was parked, and then walked along the entire length of the platform, agog at the number of people who had crammed themselves into the train.  It looked like those pictures of the Tokyo Underground, where guards with peaked caps and big hands force everyone in so the doors will close.  I decided not to try and wedge myself in, rather to wait for the next train and hopefully find a bit more space.

There was another train waiting on a different platform, far less crowded, so I hopped aboard and found a place to stand.  All the seats were full, but there was a fair bit of standing room.  Plus the train had air conditioning which was working intermittently, so it wasn't all bad.

Well, that trip to Basingstoke seemed to take weeks.  We trundled along at a casual pace, stopping frequently, I assume at signals, although it may have been the driver simply wishing to admire the view.  Every now and again the guard's voice crackled through the intercom, apologising profusely for the disruption to everyone's journeys.

At one point he explained that the reason for all the chaos was "a serious fatality at Surbiton."  I am sorry to say, readers, that this provoked an unseemly outbreak of laughter in the carriage as everyone tried to understand how a serious fatality differed from a normal fatality.

At length, we made it to Basingstoke, and the train terminated.  Everyone got off, and milled about on the platform, peering anxiously up at the information screens.  These were not informative.

An announcement told us to go to Platform Two, where a train to Exeter was waiting.  Hurrah!  The mob surged across the platform, down the stairs, along the tunnel, UP the stairs and onto Platform Two.  There was indeed a train, but it was going back to London.  A few people got on, then hastily off again.

The electronic board told us that the train was going to Exeter, but we didn't believe it.  Sure enough, after a few minutes it headed off, towards London. 

A chap next to me sighed, and said sadly "When I was a child, my grandad used to tell me if I was naughty I'd be sent to Basingstoke.  And here I am."

We agreed that he must have been very naughty that day.

It got quite pally, all of us standing there on the platform in the sun, watching wasps buzzing about in the roof.  Announcements kept scrolling along the electronic board, bearing no relation to either the time, or the number of trains coming and going.  After another lengthy delay, someone told us over the loudspeaker that the Exeter train was on Platform FOUR, and would be leaving shortly.

Once more the mob surged down the stairs, along the tunnel and back up the stairs.  Everyone, as if choreographed, clambered aboard the train and wedged themselves in. 

I got home by about 9.15, having left the office just after 5, in time to have supper, watch half a TV programme, and then crash out so I could get up at 5.45 and do it all again the next day.

Did I mention that I am leaving my job next month?

Other news:  Following the appalling tie-dye debacle, I bought some new bedlinen on the Internet.  It's lovely, and needs no half-arsed titivation from me. 

Yesterday I had my first ever singing lesson.  Apparently I have a two and a half octave range, but I have no idea if this is average, more than average, less than average, or what.  Anyway, the teacher seemed to think I sounded ok, and I am going back next week for another lesson.  I want to learn how to breathe properly, so that if and when I ever get round to performing in public I can get through a few songs without singing myself hoarse or running out of puff. 

*I'm trying my hand at travel guide writing.  I'll be unemployed soon, I need to get some money somehow.
**Artistic license


Anonymous said...

You're sat on a train for 6 hours a day? Jebus. Sack that for a game of soldiers! Even though you leave in a month, I hope it's worth it.

You have 6 them six hours to practice singing ;)

livesbythewoods said...

It's actually only 4 hours on the train. There's also about 50 minutes on the bus and an hour in the car. But sometimes more, depending on traffic. I might try singing on the train, see what happens.