Thursday, June 9
Elephant & Castle, London, 10:10
The Euro Lodge is still in a state of “being improved”. It still works though. I got there last night at about 22:30 and they were happy to see me. I had a family room for some reason with one double and one single bed. It had an empty fridge which I switched off, and a shower which was hot and splashy. I left feeling clean.
I have Auo’s Oystercard with me and so I am on my way to Kings Cross. I am standing at the end of a carriage looking into the next one. Nothing interesting is happening but my hair is drying rapidly in the wind.
At Kings Cross I will collect my pre-bought ticket and then walk to St Pancras to get my train. Stupid as this may be, it will have its reward. I will be given a free Hovis loaf, baked specially to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Even better, it will come in a free carrier bag. Woo hoo.
The train journey will be a nonstop riot of incompetence. The seven carriage train, in which I have a seat booked, will be replaced, at the last minute, by a four carriage train in which my carriage is missing. The “train manager” will apologise to all the people standing. I will find an unreserved seat and claim it. I will be sitting opposite two very large heavy metal fans drinking cider.
The buffet will have no sandwiches because “they didn’t fucking deliver any, did they”. Outside Leicester the train will grind to a halt because, in the words of the “train manager”, “the points are stuck and Network Rail engineers will be arriving shortly”.
I will sit thinking about my scepticism about Ukraine International Airlines. They had (very cheap) sandwiches, and we arrived at Gatwick early. Train services in England are a powerful argument against privatising communal services. Forty minutes later, after the “train manager” has told us that he can see the engineers in their high visibility jackets, I will join the heavy metal fans in a communal chorus of “fucking hell”.
We will then learn that the train needs to get back to London to “help with the rush hour”, and so it will now terminate at Derby. Passengers travelling to Sheffield will need to “liaise with the platform staff at Derby”. At this point we will officially be 73 minutes late.
The next train from Derby to Sheffield will be 40 minutes late for an entirely different set of reasons. I will eventually arrive in Sheffield in approximately the same time as it would have taken me to walk there.