29 October 2007

Great train journeys of the world

Ah, the joys of commuting. I elected not to cram myself on the 1915 to
Swansea, always packed and today in reverse formation (the wrong way
round, in ordinary English) so Coach A not safely distant from the up
end of the platforms. Instead waited for the 1948, which was rather
more than three minutes later but comfortably empty. Still, it too was
in reverse so I ended up, fortuitously, in a mobile-phone users' coach.

A short distance out of Reading (where we could readily have detrained,
had anyone thought about it in time) the train manager announced that
there was a security alert at Didcot and we would not be stopping
there. It's the sort of casual announcement that comes as second nature
to the train company - it utterly fails to acknowledge that Swindon is
not a useful alternative. But that is where we have to go. Happily,
it's only a few minutes before an up train collects us again, though
Didcot reopened (according to the train manager) the minute we had
passed through.

Opposite me on the outward journey sat a sour-faced woman with a
BlackBerry, at which she tapped away without rest. I suppose I tapped
away at my laptop, so can't criticise her on that score, although my
face is not sour (is it?). Like the rest of the Didcot passengers, she
phoned when the "inconvenience" was anounced to let someone know about
it, rambling on about punched noses at Swindon and something about the
fare, which I think she probably intended to claim back. At Swindon, a
man engaged a railway employee in an optimistic conversation about
taxis, which she insisted (to no surprise, at least as far as I was
concerned) that she could not authorise.

Not even time to visit the outlet mall, one of Swindon's few
attractions. And the wifi didn't work on the station. But after all it
was only a few minutes ...

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