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stepping between puddles of black ink

Reading writing talking comics all weekend until my head was hot and fuzzy and it was just just time I went home but unfortunately reduced Sunday services had intersected with engineering works and getting home was going to be an adventure, and we'd just hit the two-hour hole between trains anyway so we weren't going anywhere at all for a while. So we went to a Wetherspoons where they told us food would take more than an hour. I believed them and drank instead; gin'n'tonic with one hand, coffee with the other. Anaesthetised and enervated, went back to the trains invigorated. The train we expected to take was not running. Adventure.

We left Bristol on an emergency fill-in train heading for Bath Spa. The toilets on the train were much nicer than the ones at Bristol Station. Having a rather toilet-focussed weekend as a result of running out of my hi-tech tampons (masterpieces of modern efficient design) and having to buy 5-year-old regular applicator tampax at gougy prices from a corner shop. It's like being 17 again, lurching between toilets spouting blood and swearing. Off the train at Bath Spa and onto a bloody bus that lurches out of town and up the motorway and eventually spills us out in Swindon during a torrential rainstorm (hahaha -- I'm using a trendy shoe box as a comics carrying case -- I'm such a fucking idiot) where we locate the staff member who can tell us that what train we need for the next leg. It's an hour's wait so we buy weak coffee and powefully-flavoured pretzels and read more comics in shivery drafts. When the train drifts towards fifteen minutes late, the comics and pretzels cease to console me. The train eventually limps into the station; it's packed to the gills with football fans tossing back British Rail lager and reading news of the world. At least my hair is the right colour (blue) and whatever the result was it hasn't resulted in rage, despair or elation (nil-nil draw perhaps) so our chances of escaping physically unscathed seem high. The emotional damage may take longer to heal. We struggle off at Didcot Parkway (fortunately, none of the footy fans are going our way) and find -- yes! -- it's only a fifteen minute wait for the train to Great Malvern, which will get us home in a one-stop-hop. I pass the time complaining about trains, football fans, football in general, tabloids, litter, station cafes and anything else that occurs to me while scraping pictures on the smooth paving stones at the edge of the platform using a piece of sharpish gravel to lift the top layer of polllutants. It's rough on the fingers but makes me feel better.

There are seats in this train, without people on them already so we can actually sit down, and read more comics (there are so many of them!) only slightly grit-irritated by the party of lager-swilling teenage gits in the next bay along (christ, haven't I had my quota of wankers and trolls for one weekend?) who unfortunanetly are also getting off at Oxford (should have guessed from the expensive hair) so I have to step on sharpish when they walk into the back of me complaining about them.

But then I get home, and that's much better, despite the soggy smell from whatever's happening underneath the washing machine. Watch Shock Video and slump on the bed. Now I feel sick from eating (too much) Chinese food and I'd like to have a bath in Precious Time (pachouli, ylang ylang and sparkly gold bits) but I'm afraid to immerse myself in water so soon after I ate.

But that's a lot less annoying than trying to take the train from Bristol to Oxford.

Comments

( 8 worms — Feed the birds )
andypop
25th May, 2003 17:28 (UTC)
Yes. It once took me twelve hours to get to Weymouth on Christmas Eve. Which involved standing i the freezing open air at Southampton for longer than I can stand to remember. And they refused to offer compensation.

Next time the government want a war, let's tell them they have to fight it with trains. Then they'll spend the necessary fucking money on them at last.
cleanskies
26th May, 2003 03:19 (UTC)
this was nowhere near my worst journey ever
... yet somehow I just wasn't able to get into my travel-zen at all, and spent the entire journey seething.

Usually I can chill and laugh about it -- it's only time a-wasting.

But not that time. I probably need to think about why.
jinty
26th May, 2003 00:46 (UTC)
Parallel experiences
Left the same Wetherspoons at 7:15 having been there since 5:45 eating with badasstronaut, for a supposed (in my head) 7:30 train, knowing about the engineering but not really appreciating it, got to the station and saw a 7:10 and 7:15 -- plausible trains still on the boards but gone already. Bugger and blast and damn it to hell. Friendly but unhelpful train guy says next train is 7:40 and will get me to Oxford at 11 or so, with the bus and so forth. What about going one stop further on the Paddington train and changing at Reading? Will get you there at about 10, and avoids the bus, but hey, my ticket explicitly says not via Reading -- I'd have to pay an extra £20. (boggle!) Can I pay on the train, I cunningly say, if I decide to do that? Yes. Triumph, and (extra-)fare-dodge the shorter better way back to Oxford.

Next time I'm bloody driving. The pint and a half in the pub wasn't enough of an incentive compared to that. But I did get food in *before* I travelled.

(So, if badasstronaut and I had got to the pub a bit earlier we would have spotted you, yes? The JD Wetherspoons in the courtyard in the business area, with the weird iron goat or gnu or whatever statue in front? Accessible from the train station in a short walk? Thought so.)
cleanskies
26th May, 2003 03:13 (UTC)
Re: Parallel experiences
... looks like we actually did well on the football, avoiding the riots (for god's sake!) -- yes, it was the same pub (not as if anywhere else was offering food round there).

We were tempted to pull the Reading dodge, too ... the most irritating bit of the problem being that we were travelling a route that was not recommended and therefore not listed while the route we were supposed to be taking was (as far as I could tell) 100% cancelled, so signs worse than useless.

Actually, given the lurchiness of the bus we were glad not to have eaten -- rather be faint than pukey.
jinty
26th May, 2003 04:24 (UTC)
Re: Parallel experiences
My theory on the Reading dodge was that no matter what happened re having to pay extra or whatever, once you get to Reading you're nearly in Oxford and there are no shortage of trains between the two, even on a Sunday evening.

Riots? coo.
crunchcandy
26th May, 2003 10:02 (UTC)
your hair is still blue is it? It didn't get washed away in the rain of Swindon?
cleanskies
26th May, 2003 15:41 (UTC)
no, still blue, a little faded perhaps
... sorry I didn't have time to talk to you at the convention, always so frantic and busy at things like that ...
crunchcandy
27th May, 2003 14:14 (UTC)
Re: no, still blue, a little faded perhaps
Hey yeah me too! I was serious frazzled on saturday and really not at all all there, not really sure if I should've been there or what was going on at all, I also had to avoid you because I had the sneaking suspicion you might lure me into buying TOYS!!! I saw you loitering near the Kubricks and knew I had to run away very very fast...next time we meet i'm sure i'll be more talkative!
( 8 worms — Feed the birds )