Friday, 29 June 2007

Oh my word....

Today it took 5 hours to get home from Reading. Sadly this was due to someone jumping in front of a train. The resulting chaos was just mad.... every train going west from London and Reading was late or just cancelled.

It turned out that a mate of mine was on the train that ran over the person on the line. His journey was even worse than mine.

The good thing was that 3 of us managed to meet up on the way home and I gave them a lift at the end - ordered a curry and we were on our way home to eat it and we came across a bloke who'd fallen of his bike. He was by his own admission "very pissed" but not an unpleasant drunk. Anyway, we sorted him out and got him into the ambulance and finally got back home to eat curry about 10pm.

So here are the stats:

Train on way to work - 1/2hr late.
Train on way home - 1 1/2 hours late following 2 prior cancellations.

Saw some of the usual commuting crowd and had a bit of a laugh with them...

I've met a new person on the train by the way. I have yet to assign a name to him but he seems like a decent fellow although he does have an unusal knowledge of the highways and byways of the UK which seem to get him from A to B very quickly indeed. More of this later.. I think there could be a rich vein of humour..

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Refreshing experience..

Today I made my usual trip to Reading on the train. But it was different today. I had the company of Rene and her beautiful daughter Gemma.. And all their bags...

My faith was restored in my fellow commuters when Chris (VISAman) helped me get some of the luggage onto the platform and onto the train as well.

We sat opposite a very nice man on the train who didn't mind a 1 year old sitting there and making faces at him (all cute by the way). When we got to Reading, another chap came along and offered to help get everything onto the platform - a great deal better than the Network Rail chap on the platform who didn't even go and get a trolley for us.. he just asked where we were trying to get to......

All of the above helped me ignore the fact that the train was over ONE WHOLE SODDING HOUR late.

Pic of Gem for cute value:

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Pictures from my commute

Oh such a boring post I guess but maybe it brings it to life a bit..

This is a pic of the man with massive headphones. Nothing subtle about this fella. I think he was listening to "Garage music".

The station......

Oh, that'll do for today.

Feet under the table

Those of you that travel by train a lot may well know what I am on about...

You know when you sit at one of the tables on an Intercity 125 and there are 4 seats? The ideal situation is that you sit there and stretch out your legs under the chair opposite.
However, on a busy train, it is clearly necessary to let someone else sit there. But what do you do with your feet?

Option 1:
Stretch out like you were before - clearly unacceptable as there person opposite will have to sit in a curled up position akin to a cat sleeping on a chair. Not very fair.

Option 2:
Have a quick peek under the table - not for too long in case you give the impression that you are checking out their legs or worse, you have a foorwear fettish - and maneover your feet so that they are reaching out but not quite touching. Uncomfortable but probably the least embarrasing and most polite solution.

Option 3:
As for Option 2 above but with your feet carefully positioned to inter-lock with the feet of the person opposite. Be very careful. Any touching of extremities could be seen as a romantic advance and this is forbidden by Rule 4, Clause 27, subsection 3 of the commuter etiquette code. It could also result in you getting beaten up.

Option 4:
If you are a gobby git (like myself) you could engage the person opposite in conversation and attempt to deal with the difficult diplomatic situation playing itself out under the table. In the end you could say: "Right you put your legs to the left, I'll put mine to the right and then we'll both be ok".

But you'll never do this for 2 simple reasons.
1) This is England and that sort of behaviour will never do.
2) The code of commuter etiquette Rule 5 simply says: "Never talk to a fellow commuter. Ever."

I will post some pics of my journey to break up this tedious text....

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Commuter gadgets

The world of the modern commuter has indeed changed since my father used to catch the 7.23 train into London. In those days they used to have a newspaper and a little sleep for the journey to work.

I have been trying to sleep on the way to work but have so far failed and I blame it on the modern world (and the annoyingly loud kids who get on the train and Charlbury and get off at Oxford - tomorrow, I promise I will tell them to zip it.... or hit them with my rolled up FT).

So, the standard gadgets in your average commuter / senior exec's bag:

1) Laptop - any will do but be careful about the size. We wouldn't want to take up too much of another commuter's space with something that requires a nuclear power plant to boot up....

2) Personal Phone. So you can give your other half the 8.05am briefing..... yes, got the same train as usual, yes, honey on toast again, yes, getting the 5.37 train home, back at the usual time, yes, I'm still boring, bald and trying to be interesting, yes, yes, yes.

3) Work Phone. "Yah, hi Gerald. On my way in. Yah, be the same time as every other sodding day when I phone you to tell you what time I'll be there. Yah, have a mocca and froth waiting for me - not too hot, not too cold. Yah, get some jammy dodgers in for my 10.30 Tell Suzie I'm on the way and can you call my wife to tell her I'm a plonker. Ok, thanks Gerald. BYE."

4) Blackberry. Oh the curse of the berry. I used to have one of these. Now, I don't and I'm so happy. Email should stay at work. You can spot the poor sods who have them as they're the ones looking really stressed but trying not to be because they control the universe through their berries..... right then...... Do what I do. Get rid of it.

5) MP3 player. I have one of these. Therefore it's cool.

6) Video player / psp / other portable DVD player thing.... Oh come on........ Actually I'd love on of these but it's very poncy....

7) 3g card - for the laptop just in case the phone and the berry are not enough.....

Me? I have a flask of tea, MP3 player, a book and my personal mobile is stuffed safely away in my bag.....

Monday, 25 June 2007

The train wasn't the problem

Today, as we all know, has been a day of rain. Lovely. I was woken several times in the night by the sound of it lashing down in a manner reminiscent of a cow urinating lavishly and copiously.

So when I woke up at 6ish to get ready I made the decision to take the 4x4 rather than the clockwork powered Astra which is other option. And I'm glad I did.

I had to drive through 2 major floods on the way to the station. One was being patrolled by a bedraggled copper who really seemed very committed given the circumstances. But please, stay with me.... As I drove through the floods (feeling so much more important than all those people in their little cars) I passed a very new and very expensive BMW, Mercedes, VW etc. all of which had conked out in 3ft of water but their owners (being stupid) had clearly decided that because they spent £40k on their vehicle, it should be able to negotiate a bit of water....

I smiled all the way to the station with the following image in my mind...

Driving past semi-submerged Merc a little bit too quickly (driver still in Merc) and seeing the wash from my 4x4 lapping over his bonnet....
The train ironically was bang on time for once. Maybe it was the right sort of rain. Sat next to VISA man and saw blond bird from the next station (henceforth know as Hermione because I'm never going to speak to her and find out her real name). I ushered her off the train before me. Not even a glimmer of thanks or recognition..... Now that's real commuting. No interaction with your fellow men and definitely no eye contact.

Friday, 22 June 2007

Best Train Manager so far..

Amazingly, the train was on time today.... which is nice.

The journey was further improved by the most cheery "train manager" I've ever heard. He managed to put something called intonation into the otherwise routine and dull announcement. He actually seemed to care. I've nick-named him Ron.

Rest of the journey was uneventful...

On the way home I was sad as I had finished my book, didn't get a chance to buy a paper and the battery in my MP3 player went flat... So I went into the shop on platform 4 at Reading to see the nice Italian lady who should get an award for friendliness. You can imagine my suprise when I found the Italian woman was not there today and had been replace by a woman with a face that makes babies cry. And they didn't sell batteries, newspapers or anything I wanted and they didn't take cards either.

Had to steal a paper on the train on the way home for entertainment and then beat the noisy smelly teenagers on the train to death with it.
Ah, home sweet home.

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Learning people's names

I am genuinely suprised and pleased to be able to report that I am now on 1st name terms with the chap who gets on the same train as me - hitherto known as Visa man!

We managed to break down all the norms of commuter etiquette and have a long conversation and introduce ourselves properly. His name is Chris by the way.

The journey home today was punctuated by the smelly youth opposite me nodding off to sleep and nearly falling off his seat. Felt very tempted to give him a little push and then hose him down with Right Guard but felt this might be seen as assault and result in me being thrown off the train by an over-zealous train manageress.

Other news: The blond woman that gets on the train a couple of stops down from me is not blond..... It's growing out.... You've been rumbled.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Poor Service

Today, the train has made good at following a theme. That is, being late every day - both on the way to and from work.

I suppose we get used to it in the UK so that when "Gerald" the train manager (honestly, that title confers far too much credit on the person with the title) comes on the tannoy to announce in a broken electronic squark that the train is running late due to one of the following (pick your favourite);

1) Customer Incident

2) Staffing issues

3) Rolling stock failure

4) Poor weather conditions (this includes the old favourites such as leaves on the line and the wrong type of snow)

5) Hangover

6) A customer trying to leave the train at Morton in Marsh (naughty naughty).

we pay little attention and simply carry on reading, sleeping, mp3ing, staring or making notes on the people around you....

The other thing is they always ask us to "read the safety card near your seat" as if we are taxi-ing for take off. Listen pal, we all get the same train every sodding day. We know how to break the windows, not light a fag and scamble away. Please stop telling us.

Anyway, today's incident doesn't involve a weird looking person or anything like that. Today (and you can hear my excitement at this point), the train arrived in reverse formation which means that all the 1st class passengers had to walk from one end of the train to the other. But the thing that caught my attention was that the train manager (there he is again) told us "this train is in reverse formation, AT THE MOMENT". Like they were going to execute a neat trick - maybe a handbrake turn so that by the time we got to Reading, it would be the right way round.

A slightly amused look on my face therefore..

Tuesday, 19 June 2007


Although I've only been catching the 07.18 for a couple of weeks, I have started to get used to the familiar faces that turn up.. And today, there was a new one..

The thing is, I didn't notice his face. What I noticed was the fact that he was wearing a business jacket, shirt, tie, hanky in breast pocket, nice Barker type shoes, socks, holding a brief case.

And then you get to his legs.. He was wearing shorts - nothing that even went with the outfit.. and his legs were shaved... Now, I am prepared to give this chap a bit of credit and assume he had cycled to the station...

It's either that or he likes to dress up at the weekend and call himself Susan.

About this here blog

I have recently started commuting to work on the train. This new activity has brought an exciting variety of new people into my life - or me into theirs. Or maybe neither - we just sit there and observe each other in silence - such is the force of commuter etiquette.

I have decided to record my observations on my fellow passengers - some of these observations will give you an insight into my particular neuroses and issues. Others will just be the absurdity of everyday life mixed with the truly brilliant people who are still out there somewhere.
(For example the Italian lady who runs the shop on platform 4 at Reading station. Never before have I seen someone so happy in their work and who has written in to her own job description "Be so infectiously friendly that even the most jaded commuter will smile).

More soon.