There was a bit of a battle of wills going on this morning. The train, coming in at the platform seven minutes late and unannounced (unless some inaudible muttering timed to coincide with a train screaming through the station counts as an announcement) was convinced it was going to Hounslow. The station platform information boards on the first few stations we passed through were equally adamant it was going to Whitton. The SWT employee who had risked emerging from his bolthole when the train arrived at Vauxhall said vaguely that it was going ‘all over the place’ and, furthermore, that ‘no-one had told him it was cancelled’.
After we’d passed through a couple more stations the on-board announcements from the computerised voice began to sound less confident, in so far as that was possible. ‘This train is for Whittonhounslow’ it said at Wandsworth Town. Then it compromised. ‘This train is for Whitton and Hounslow’. But not via Kew Bridge it would seem, so I got off at Putney and waited with the rest of the passengers who wanted neither Whitton nor Hounslow but points in between. At which point somebody somewhere decided this would be a good time to put on a short formation train – four carriages instead of eight. And run it late.
Oh dear, I’ve been spoiled these last couple of months. I’d forgotten how it feels to squeeze into a space designed for five strangers or maybe 10 good friends with upwards of 25 other people. I’d forgotten the sensation of having literally nowhere to put your feet that wasn’t on top of someone else’s foot, and of wondering if that – thing – pressing into the back of your leg was really just someone else’s bag. And worst of all was getting in to find my Silverlink colleague already at his desk, looking rather pleased with himself because the North London Line had actually got it together this morning and delivered him in on time.