Friday, 4 May 2012

Here we ******* go again...

I'm beginning to think that First Great Western have it in for me or something.

Here I am, travelling to see my better half for a nice Bank Holiday Weekend, and I'm getting stuffed again.
Knowing that it's a Bank Holiday weekend, I did, indeed, check to see if I'd need to reserve a seat. No warnings were flagged on the National Rail Enquiries website that I could age, so not unforgivably though there would be no need.

So much for that bloody stupid notion.

EVERY damn seat that I could see was either reserved or occupied by the time I'd made it to the train, scant seconds after it appeared on the departures board. Having been undertaking a massive spring cleaning effort in my second floor flat these last few days (involving so many trips up and down the stairs that I lost count), my legs are NOT up to standing room only on a packed train for up to an hour or more, weighed down my a fully-laden bergen.

So I was understandably livid that no warnings were given by either National Rail Enquiries OR FGW. So I dog-eared the first FGW member of platform staff I could find (the platform gates man, as it happened), and explained both my annoyance and situation to him. He was good enough to listen and comprehend, and pointed me to the Customer Services point. The guy there apologised about the lack of warnings, regretted that he couldn't reserve me a seat, but noted that Carriage 'E' was set aside an a non-reserved carriage on the next available service - some 42 minutes later.

To say that I'm still annoyed is a bit of an understatement. Once I've arrived at my destination, and calmed down a bit, I'll add the rest of this trip log.

A day later...

Just remembered that I never updated this entry, so, I'll let a couple of (suitably edited to remove personal items) texts speak the words...

Right, shatnerspeak time... change of platform... ran, got there... knackered... beyond... words... got one of... the last.. free seats. 19:45 departure. See you... Around nine pm. All my love, XXXXXXX

OK, having sat on by backside on the concourse, back to a kiosk wall, waiting for the next train, I'd hauled my sorry arse off the floor, snatch-and-jerk lifted my bergan to my back, and staggered to the gate, to find the bloody train was now going to be on a different platform when it appeared on the departure board - like half the assembled punters, who all (including me) uttered a rather predicable foul word (remember what I said in an earlier post about appropriate and proper? So much for self control! Oops!), and legged it to platform 10 (had been #4)

After a scrum of us had managed to get through the gates (one of which was blocked by a FGW gateman for some obscure reason), we continued to leg it down the platform, all of us with the same idea about Carriage 'E'. Those with reserved seats ambled on, enjoying the spectacle, and getting underfoot, of course causing more swearing from a goodly number of us unreserved folks (NOT me, this time. I at least try to be a good boy!). Getting onto Carriage 'E', I managed, by dint of good luck, to stow my bergan in the luggage rack, blocking everyone from getting past me (sorry!), and then snagging one of the last seats for my ageing backside (OK, OK, middle-aged then) and weary legs (NOT Sorry!). And thus, with the roar of a massive herd of not-so-little elephants, we'd seized our places on the train, and it got moving, right on time.

Hiya love :-) Well, got a semblance of me sense of humour back, if only because of the poor sod sat next to me, who's snoring louder than the train is! Train also running 5-10 or so mins late from Reading, slow freight train ahead or something. Still hope to be with you before 9pm :-) XXXXXXX

Finally on the second-to-last leg of my journey to see my better half, my mood improved mightily. Well, that and finally completing the last game, to getting a clean 3-star sweep completed on a level of Angry Birds on my phone ("YES!" I hissed, causing the poor bloke next to me to damn near drop his newspaper on the floor in shock! Oops. Sorry!). And along the tracks the train trundled. By the time we passed through West Drayton, he'd folded the paper, and fallen asleep, his head lolling against the window.

By the time we passed through Slough, he was snoring. Loudly. Everyone in earshot was turning around in their seats, or glancing along the carriage if standing, to find out what that noise was that was drowning out the sound of the train. All I could do was shrug my shoulders sheepishly, and point theatrically at the poor sod, eliciting grins of sympathy from some (Thanks!), shrugs from others (Thanks for nothing!) and looks of disbelief from the rest (You think it's loud from over there? I'm getting tinnitus!).

He eventually woke just after Reading, thank the stars, and my ears had regained their normal positioning from where they'd lodged, some six feet inside my skull, by the time we reached Newbury. I said nothing. He most likely knew, or had been told by his own better half, that he snored loudly, and either let if go in one ear and out the other without stopping (The rest of us should be so lucky!), or just didn't believe the Human body could make such a massive noise. Either way, he'd stopped the noise, so commenting on it would have been both insulting and not a little pedantic. So I didn't.

We got into Newbury about five minutes late, and by a miracle of no small proportions, I got the first taxi in the rank, there being no buses to where my better half lives, at that time of night (in the sticks, remember?). A short while later, there I was, being mobbed by the dogs (GAGH! Doggy tongue in the face! YEUCH!), and properly greeted by who the dogs believe is their Human Servant, so all's well that ends well, I guess.

I'm still miffed about the first damn train, though.

And you can bet that I'll be reserving - even when it's not required or necessary - my seat in the future!

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