So ladies and gentlemen, the cynic has returned in full glory and has more things that she would like to share with you.
Imagine humidity. Imagine sweat in places you didn’t think you could perspire from. Imagine being in a small space. A small space that you have to conquer and claim as your own. Remember now, if you do not stand your ground you will have no claim, they like to feed on the weak. Imagine not breathing real fresh air for an hour to god knows how long. Imagine having a plan that in theory works like clockwork and then falls apart because of one stupid cog that decided not to work today.
Now, take all of these ‘imaginary’ situations and combine them all into the same one. This is the inevitable reality of travelling. Whether it be by car, air, sea or by train, this will (if not already) have happened to you. Stuck in some kind of a metal container for hours and hours with people that you don’t know, and in a place you don’t know either. If we had the time I would go into each particular popular mode of transport and explain to you why they are all horrendous and should be re-thought in ‘x’ amount of ways. Specifically, today we will be addressing the issue of train journeys. Those that know me well will know that train travel is indeed my favourite way to travel. However, it is not without it clammy flaws.
One runs into these problems once the train is cancelled - that’s when the race begins. We begin with the announcement that fills every regular traveler with utter despair, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen can I have your attention please. We are sorry to announce that the XX:XX train to XXXXXXX has been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenienced caused.’ Amongst all the irritated commuters, you can see each of them using their mental maps of London to think of an alternative route to their destination. If you look carefully enough you can even see the steam coming out of their ears. But, before you know it, not to worry the station has organised a way to get you there safely. Well done team! Huzzah and hoorah to the leading team of train experts for solving this…. oh wait. Why are all these other people getting on my off-peak train? Is it really 6'o’clock already?
No, no, dear friend. These are all the other people from your cancelled train, the cancelled train before you and then next lot of passengers all cramming onto the same metal tube on wheels. This is the opportune moment to exercise the key survival skills you learnt on The Island: With Bear Grylls. Establishing a base/camp that will suffice for your journey, ensuring you have enough food and water, double checking that you’ve sharpened your elbows because the person sitting next to you certainly has, and trying to make sure you can still breathe amidst the fuggy aroma of bodies, food and sweat. Seeing as you can smell the person opposite you and smell yourself at the same time, you know that occupying this space isn’t helping anyone... not even you.
One thing I must say that I do enjoy when the proverbial shit hits the fan, is when the congregation of travellers on the train look up from their digital devices and come together in times of trouble. When the train is stuck in the middle of the tracks for 45 minutes, you thank the high heavens that someone has attempted to lighten the mood with a mild joke about how terrible British rail services really are. But then you remember that you are from London, and you know that anyone who talks to anyone on public transport is most definitely a nutter. So you plug yourself back into the matrix and boil on your own.