I have failed. Miserably. It was not my fault. I doubt there’s anything I can do about it now.
For the last eighteen
months, ever since I stopped being a Working Gal and started Retiring In Style, I have been trying to persuade Mr B to become a Rail Rider. I have been a Rail Rider ever since I was old enough to buy my first Senior Railcard, armed with which I have had all
manner of exciting journeys, the majority of which end up in the home, or the company, of My Boy or one of the Darling Daughters.
Trip to Cardiff to see
my Little Welsh Boys? Why risk Motorway Monotony when you can hop on a train with a good book, a flask of coffee and a sandwich and hop off at the other end unflustered and raring to go? A Jolly Girls Outing in London? Let the train take the strain and on
the way home, just sit in a state of happy contemplation remembering what fun we have had and listening to the train humming “Loverly day, loverly day, loverly day...”
What’s not to like, I ask you? Or rather, I asked Mr B. He didn’t answer; I suppose he thought it was a rhetorical question. Or perhaps he just didn’t want to be drawn into one of our regular discussions about “Why He Hasn’t
Bought a Railcard.”
I feel optimistic about my chances on the basis that, some years ago, I was successful in persuading him to become a Bus Boarder.
For several years after he became eligible for a bus pass, he flatly refused to apply for one. It was only when I, too, reached the Great Age of the Bus Pass, that I marched him down to the Town Hall and stood over him as we both signed up. Now he is
(almost) as fond of the bus as I am, though probably for different reasons. Mine are social, his are economic. I like meeting people on the bus, he likes totting up in his head how much money we are saving on car parking. Either way, we are now
– both of us – enthusiastic Bus Boarders.
Persuading him to become a Rail Rider may be a little more problematical – possible because
bus travel without bus pass is free, while travel by train still involves forking out, even with a Senior Rail Card.
Nevertheless, the Middle of the Darling Daughters
and I came up with a Cunning Plan. It centred on the fact that we had planned to take her out for a birthday meal a couple of days before the Big Day. “Come on the train!” she exhorted her father, “I’ll meet you from the station –
just see how easy it will be! No driving home afterwards – so you can enjoy a bottle of wine at lunchtime.” I’m not sure exactly what was the deciding factor (it might have been the promise of the wine) but – to my amazement –
Mr B agreed to take the train.
We had it all worked out, the Middle of the Darling Daughters and I. Her father and I would board the London-bound train at Durrington on Sea and alight just
over an hour later at East Croydon where she would be outside in the taxi rank, pretending to be a taxi, to pick us up.
The first problem arose when I checked
out the train times and discovered there was no direct train to Victoria on Saturday. We would have to change at Barnham. No problem, I assured Mr B airily, happens all the time, just a slight detour. He didn’t look convinced but he went along
Then, when we arrived at the station, the train was delayed. We would not be able to make the connection at Barnham. There would be a bit of a wait.
Nothing to worry about, I assured Mr B (who was looking worried. Or annoyed. Or a bit of both.) We would get on the train at Barnham when it finally arrived and then it would be all the way to East Croydon. At this point there was another station announcement
letting us know that the Victoria train was delayed. I decided not to say anything. Least said, soonest mended, I thought.
Finally, finally, we are on the
train. Next stop, East Croydon! Except that it wasn’t. Just as we were approaching Gatwick Airport, yet another announcement. Because of the delays, The Voice said, the train would now be calling at Gatwick then going fast to Victoria. Passengers
for East Croydon should change at Gatwick Airport. ...
At Gatwick we had four minutes to scoot from one station platform to the other. Every single one of the
eight carriages was packed to the rafters (do trains have rafters? Could someone let me know, please, in the interests of accuracy?) A kind gent in the very last carriage hauled me aboard “Room for one more!” he said – not realising
that I was dragging Mr B along with me. We held our breath all the way to East Croydon so that we took up as little room as possible.
arrived!” I said, in triumph as we fell out of the train. Mr B’s response was not repeatable. Where was Thomas the Tank Engine when I needed him?
sorry to say it but, thanks to the combined efforts of the train companies, my best laid plans to turn Mr B into a Rail Rider have gone, well, right off the rails.
I think it’s safe to say, we have reached the end of the line....