31 October 2007

Great train journeys of the world part II

As if the mystery tour to Swindon wasn't enough, the trip to work the following morning (yesterday) was no better, just different.  The 0707 was promised at 0715 - not late enough to make it worth jumping on the slow 0706 - but only after everyone had boarded it did the announcement come that the train would have to wait at the station for the attention of a mechanic (is this a slightly fancier name for a fitter?).  The  next announcement suggested that the train from Swansea, just drawing up at an adjacent platform, might be worth trying.  No, I thought, it will be full already, having picked up passengers all the way through south Wales: I elected to await the mechanic.
The third announcement made clear that any train was a better bet than this one, so reluctantly we detrained and joined the throng around the Swansea train, which was indeed "full and standing", in the evocative phrase used by the train managers.  Letting it go, I ended up on the 0730, which proceeded to take an hour to reach Paddington, where I found that the "good service" advertised on the boards at the entrance to the District and Circle Line tube station actually meant 10 minutes before the next service appeared, with enough people to fill it already waiting.  I observed to the only member of staff in evidence - an attractive young eastern European blonde, as it happens - that an amendment to the notices might be in order, and she apologised profusely and, it seemed, comprehensively, for the myriad and general shortcomings of the London Underground.  The apology seems to have replaced the get-you-to-work-on-time service which is what we all need from public transport.
I went in search of a bus, but there was no sign of the right ones: I'd even have taken one of Mayor Livingstone's appalling and utterly inappropriate bendy buses had there been one.  So I walked, reaching the office hot and sweaty and having to add the time it took to shower to my already extended travelling time, and strangely attracted by the idea of working in Oxford.

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