I’m sitting in terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow just by gates A13/14. It’s a grey day outside, but the promised rain is holding off and the wind is from the west. Runway 27 left is the active take off runway this afternoon so the aircraft are coming towards me as they get airborne. Continue reading
Tag Archives: transport
With apologies to Cy Coben, whose words I have adapted, the following came to me on the 2115 from Paddington last night, partly with regard to my own plight, this have been my second jumper in 8 days and the third in a few months, Continue reading
Many years ago I attended training in order to improve my two wheeled skills, for in those days one could ride certain motor cycles on the road without having to pass a two wheel test. One of the key lessons was that one should obtain a motor cycle that was appropriate to one’s size; the principle being that you needed to be able to put your feet on the ground when at rest and the point was ably demonstrated by one of the instructors who was about five foot two. It was something that the dealerships also took seriously and would try hard to dissuade buyers from choosing a bike that they would find hard to manage. Continue reading
If the service before the one you are now waiting for had been as late running as the one you are waiting for is, you’d be on your way by now. Continue reading
It’s a quarter to seven in the morning. It’s cold, misty and dark where the street lights have been turned off to save money. I walk through to the main road and the oasis of light that is my local ‘bus stop. I’m early, but have erred on the safe side as I don’t do this often. I’m no stranger to this time of the morning; I’m often well on my way somewhere by now, but that is mostly in my car whereas today I am green commuting, heading off to start a new contract and making a journey that is going to become a regular one for me; the local bus to the town centre, walk to the railway station, catch a train and walk to the office. Continue reading
Back in the 80 s I used to travel by train a lot on business. At that time it was frowned upon to take your own car and, at our firm, the company car was unheard of other than for a few right at the top.
As I got to travel so much I even had my own book of rail warrants so that I could just write one out when I needed to. And so I would head off, sometimes on a day trip, other times for up to a week, and let the rhythm of the rails waft me from place to place as I earned my crust.
When I was a small boy most of our travel involved the local ‘bus service, and so my early experience of the romance of travel was the bus station in maybe Maidenhead or Reading. There I might see a long distance coach service, and the sight of people going somewhere excited the curiosity of my youthful mind. Railway stations and airport terminals still have the same fascination.
Train travel came a little later into my world after yet another move of house. We lived beside the Tattenham Corner branch line, where I could see the Royal Train take the Queen and her Mum to see The Derby at Epsom, but our station was a one mile walk away. From there we would catch a Southern green electric train up to Croydon to shop, or now and again to the terminus at Victoria on an outing to London.
At Victoria I could see one of the most romantic of trains; the Golden Arrow (Flèche d’Or) with its wonderful chocolate and cream Pullman cars taking people to or from the Continent. But my first solo train journeys were less glamorous; daily commuting into the City via Fenchurch and Liverpool Streets for example.
In the 1980s my job started to take me around the UK by train, and I rode the East and West coast main lines and got deep into Wales amongst other places. I met many fascinating people both in those places and en-route. Then I became entitled to first class where the peace and quiet could be double edged sword: On the one hand it was nicer to work on the train but, when you didn’t need to work there were less people to strike up a conversation with.
There was one great joy to the posh end though, and that was the dining car. A colleague and I used to book, at our own expense, a pair of seats on the up Red Dragon and spend the hour between Swindon and Paddington having breakfast. What a civilised start to the day!
Over the years I have also travelled by train in Denmark, Germany, France and the USA, each of which has brought new pleasures and, at times, a reality check. Once, travelling from Hamburg to Hannover our train slowed, presumably for a section of track maintenance. Some disused and overgrown sidings slid by with what appeared to be an old military camp away beyond the trees. Then we passed a small sign that said Celle. It took the mental Rolodex a few seconds to click round and Belsen came up. Travel does broaden the mind; there I was sat in first class luxury with my cup of coffee observing the site of such horrors that were perpetrated 50 years since, and trying to reconcile that with the German people of today that I worked with, respected and liked.
After a time I gained a company car and that put an end to travelling by train to a large degree. It was frowned on to incur the expense when you had company wheels at your disposal. But by then the trains were being refurbished to, in my mind, a lower standard than they had been built to with old comforts being replaced by small, hard seats and less leg room. And corporate vandalism didn’t stop there; the Network Southeast livery has to be the greatest travesty ever inflicted on a railway in their history.
No, I’m very glad that I was able to enjoy rail travel at a time when it was a pleasure to travel by train.
Why is it that the mobile phone culture dictates that a person’s volume on their phone is in inverse proportion to the substance of their conversation?
Riding home from London on the train last night I was joined by a fellow businessman, but a complete stranger. His papers identified him as working for a company that I know well and he spend much of the journey making and receiving calls, but I heard probably less that 30 words over about the same number of minutes of talk time despite the fact that we were sat so close. A shame in some ways because, being in an industry where I frequently earn my keep I might have picked up something useful.
Three or four rows in front and behind were a man and a woman who were both so loud that every word rang out through the carriage, and boy were they inane. Having seen them both neither looked like a gormless moron, but they both sounded that way. Do these people think that a lack of decent conversation skills can be overcome by shouting?
Oh, the joys of train travel.