Friday, 24 July 2009

Reasons to be grateful

Yesterday was a loooong day.

Reason to be Grateful #1: The alarm sounded at 4:45 and I actually heard it (I slept clean through a very loud hour's worth of Radio 2 on most days of last week).

Reason to be Grateful #2: I arrived at the Business Gym at 7:15, assisted with the registration process and didn't screw up. Just being part of the Business Gym is a reason to be grateful in itself.

Reason to be Grateful #3: At midday I caught the train to Hertford and actually had the balls (borrowed, obviously) to chase up some money owed to me. Not such a difficult task after all.

Reason to be Grateful #4: Feeling rather pleased with myself (and lighter than I had felt for weeks) I had time to catch the train home and sit for a couple of hours with a nice cup of tea, a huge salad, and access to email, rather than hanging around in either London or Hertford in coffee shops or bookstores. Not that the cup of tea lasted two hours, of course.

Reason to be Grateful #5: At 18:25 I left the house and caught the train back in to London to mentor a Kabbalah 1 class. It started to pour with rain when I emerged from the tube at Bond Street and I got soaked from the knees down in the short walk to the Kabbalah Centre. So how grateful I was to have remembered my umbrella - I would much rather have soggy knees than be a drowned rat.

Reason to be Grateful #6: The class ended earlier than usual and I made a beeline for Liverpool Street in the hope of walking through the front door at 11:30 (rather than midnight) which was a welcome thought considering my early start.

Okay, so here is where I get slightly short on gratitude for a while....
I ran out in to the main concourse at Liverpool Street and saw that the 22:28 to Cambridge was due to depart from platform 7 in two minutes time. This meant I would need to undertake what some people would describe as "running". I gave my best effort, and considering that I run like a chicken I am sure that I put a smile on a few faces too. However you want to describe my style, I made the train, picked up a discarded free paper and settled in for the journey home.

Several dull celebrity stories later, I realised that the train hadn't moved. Was this the right train? The board said platform 7, the sign above platform 7 said "22:28 to Cambridge"... the sign on the platform itself said "22:28 to Cambridge" but the electronic screens in the train were switched off, it was now 22:39 and the train was still stationary...

At this moment I had what was described by Douglas Adams in "The Meaning of Liff" as an 'Ely': "The split second in which you realise that something, somewhere, has gone horribly wrong..." and at that precise moment without word from the driver, the doors beeped and closed and the train lurched forwards. Bugger. I bet this is the wrong train.

And not only the wrong train, but extremely slow. After 25 excruciating minutes where I flipped between aggravation and nonchalance, instead of arriving at Tottenham Hale, we pulled in to Seven Sisters and the station announcement was given that this was the Stansted Express which stopped only at Harlow and Stansted Airport.

I decided to get off at Harlow and wait for a Cambridge train to be certain, but at Harlow another (departing) passenger said that he was sure that this train stopped at Bishops Stortford. Some of the trains do stop at both.... and this was a late train.... so maybe he is right. After all, the train I got on said it went to Cambridge. The doors beeped before I had time to really think through my options and I jumped back on the train. And guess what?

It didn't stop at Bishops Stortford.

At 23:42, after 20 long minutes of furious evil thoughts towards the driver, the passenger at Harlow and generally willing the train to hurry-the-f**k-up we pulled in to Stansted Airport, at which point the driver casually and quietly announced "Apologies to all of the passengers who thought this might be the Cambridge train" OH, SO NOW YOU'RE F**KING TALKING! WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE THE TRAIN LEFT F**KING LIVERPOOL STREET? CAT GOT YOUR TONGUE? Dickhead.

Most of the time I am a calm, rational being. On the odd occasion I get really angry. Usually when very tired and not likely to be confronted. I am very good at shouting to myself.

I looked at the London bound trains - platform 1 went via Harlow and platform 3 via Bishops Stortford - but the next train (the one I had just jumped off) was not due to depart for another 25 minutes. Marvellous. I jumped back on board and grabbed another free paper and sat down for the wait.

I didn't have to wait long - just ten minutes later the doors beeped, closed and we were off. WTF?!?! I was thrown once again in to sudden panic - why is this train leaving early? Is it the train on the board or is it heading back to a terminus or worse still, straight to Liverpool Street? I spent an agonizing 15 minutes throwing all kinds of worthless threats out in to thin air. If this doesn't stop in Stortford, I am screwed, because I have already missed the last train out of Liverpool motherf**kers, what's with the lack of announcements? I'll charge you for my cab fare, I will! You'll have to pay! I'm not paying for your lack of communication! I could have been home by now! You dirty, stinking, train-driving bastards...

The train stopped at Bishops Stortford. I arrived home at 12:10. Okay, so there's Reason to be Grateful #7. I spent a night in my own bed rather than spending a small fortune on cab fares or sitting on a bench waiting for the first train to depart. And Oh! What a glorious night of deep sleep it was too.

What a day. If I sit on a train in the next 50 years it will be too soon.

Oh crap, I'm back in London tomorrow...

1 comment:

  1. Oh sweetie, sounds hellish.
    I'm so sorry.
    I'm not particularly fond of trains at the moment either. I keep picking the slow ones.