Monday 25th October
Sitting on the train is a good time to write letters. Although modern technology allows us to stay connected and communicating almost wherever you are these days, including on the train, it is a good time take a few minutes out to pen a few notes, thoughts or missives, depending on how you want to describe it. If the train isn’t too crowded that is.
There are two types of people you meet on a train: the friendly chatty type and those who are not in the least interested in talking to you. Coming out of London you meet the tired commuters who do the trip day in day out and who look completely miserable. I guess they must typically fit in to the “don’t want to talk” types. Usually they have to drive when they get to Peterborough or some similar nonentity of a long distance commuting town so they can’t even have a beer to relax. Because they do the same trip every day it would be a recipe for disaster in any case if they got into the habit of a drink on the way home, speaking from the perspective of an individual who wants to look after himself that is J.
You also meet the “speak loudly into the mobile phone” types. Usually the conversation centres around the fact that “they” are on the train and that “we might get cut off at any time”. “I said we might get cut off at any time. Oh, we’ve been cut off”. I mustn’t mock because we’ve all done it.
Monday 8th November
It’s funny how your attitude changes quite quickly to catching the train out of London. When London represents an occasional visit then the time of the train back isn’t really so important. Now that I’m doing it once a week, sometimes twice, then catching the right train whilst not actually a matter of life or death climbs the scale of necessities such that running for it to make sure of being on board when the doors slide shut becomes part of a regular fitness regime. I never thought I’d join the ranks of those rushing up the escalator in Kings Cross. The fact is that if I miss the 18.50 I have to wait until 19.30. Not a long time in the great scheme of things but all the same an extra 40 minutes before I get home.
One of the problems facing Londoners is the unreliability of the tube. In theory it only takes fifteen minutes door to door from leaving the office in Camden to stepping on the train at Kings Cross. It is only two stops on the Northern line. Reality is that when you get to the tube in Camden the sign tells you that there are delays, the trains are not stopping at Tufnel Park (for what it is worth) and the electronic notice board informs waiting commuters that it is eight minutes until the next train (at rush hour) and you have only twenty two minutes until your train leaves Kings Cross. Result: running up the stairs at Kings Cross.
Ah well. Still there is a vibrancy about travelling to London. The neon lights in Camden, the pubs, the late opening shops, the rush of people-like ants on their concrete runs all failing to walk anywhere in a straight line, waiting for gaps in the traffic to cross on “don’t walk”. Corny huh? They all look tired. No one smiles on the tube. It is also a young person’s game. Where do all the older people go? Or is it my imagination? For somewhere that is supposed to be a happening city London certainly does its best to hide the smiles. Possibly it takes a couple of drinks after work to bring it out in which case it is a city that seems to thrive only on stimulants.