It was a feat of military precision getting myself out of the house and down to the railway station in time for the 10.29 to London Victoria.
Because I was leaving Mr
B "Home Alone" for the best part of the day, there was a flask of coffee to prepare, chunky vegetable soup to heat up for another, smaller flask, the wherewithal for a cheese sandwich (if so desired) to be set out. Have you ever tried spooning chunky vegetable
soup into a flask? It's a messy business. I wouldn't mind but when Mr B came to sup the soup at lunchtime, he complained that it was only warm. I blame the flask. That soup was boiling hot when I transferred it from saucepan to flask and I have the scars -
and the splashes - to prove it.
Anyway, after all that, I was off and away to the station - only to find, on arrival, that the 10.29 train had been cancelled. Industrial action? I hear you ask. Or, perhaps,
Autumn leaves on the line? No, nothing so understandable. The train had been cancelled because it was running late. It wasn't, to be strictly accurate, cancelled at all, it just wouldn't be stopping at my station. This meant that at precisely 10.33 I and my
fellow Disgruntled Customers had to watch while our train (which obviously wasn't our train, but you know what I mean) shot through the station at top speed. I am ashamed to say, dear reader, that - mild-mannered as I am - I shook an angry fist in its direction
as it hurtled through.
I whiled away the next twenty minutes chatting to a most charming fella who, like me, had decided to catch the next train to Hove in a bid to pick up the next London train from there.
We could have stayed put where we were but the station master advised that there was no guarantee the 11.06 might be too late to stop for us. And, as I told my New Best Friend, it must be better to travel hopefully, rather than not at all.
We discussed whether the rail company could be said to be discriminating against Folk Like Us, by positively deciding to miss us out even though the train was still running, still picking up passengers at other, more favoured,
stations. We decided it was discriminatory though there didn't appear to be any Acts of Parliament legislating against such treatment, as far as we were aware. My fellow passenger told me that when he first travelled to London from this station, it cost a
mere £1.50 return. I didn't like to ask how long ago this was; it seemed rude when we had only just met. We reminisced about the Olden Days of steam trains when you would arrive at your destination smelling of smoke and with clothes filthy with soot.
At this point, the Hove train arrived so we took seats in separate carriages - but met again on Platform 1 where we were entertained by the fact that the station announcer had to keep explaining platform changes because
none of the trains seemed to be coming in on the platform which was their original destination. At least they were stopping, we comforted each other. After announcing yet another platform change, an exciting invitation: we were invited to take part in a customer
survey to help plan future train services. From 2018 onwards. Really, we agreed as we parted company to board the train (which, predictably, came in on platform 2 instead of platform 1), you couldn't make it up.
I wonder where my One Time Friend was going when he arrived in London? I was meeting up with the Youngest of the Darling Daughters for our latest Lunch and Theatre Day Out. So special they are, these regular meetings with my daughter. Because of the
cancelled train, our lunchtime was foreshortened though we talked at twice the speed to make up for it. What's more, would you believe, our seats were upgraded from Way Up High to the stalls where we had an excellent view of Roald Dahl's Matilda. Yes, we were
up on our feet at to end for a well-deserved standing ovation. We would almost certainly have done the same, had we been up in the Grand Circle, but my daughter would have been anxiously clutching at me with desperate fingers in case I accidentally toppled
over the balcony. The audience would have thought it was yet another Startling Stunt in a production which boasted many such show-stoppers including the unforgettable "Revolting Children", a song which I would find myself singing for the next 24 hours. Hopefully
none of the young parents I met would take it personally....
On my way home on a train which actually turned up and left on time, I checked my mobile phone and there was a message from my dear friend Eleanor
who had called in to check up on Mr B in my absence. They had enjoyed themselves, she told me, putting the world to rights. Well, let's face it, somebody has to.
"Drew the curtains and turned on lights so
it shouldn't be too gloomy on your return," she added. And, yes, she was as good as her word - for, approaching home in the rain, I could see the porch light shining the warmest of welcomes.
Not for the first
time, I found myself counting my (many) blessings...