11 June 2012
Travelling south today I did manage to get my connection, this time at Lime Street.
What do you mean, connection? How can you connect at Lime Street? All trains start and finish there.
Oh you know what I mean, so shut up. What I mean is that I didn’t miss my train this time because I wasn’t ‘gassing’.
Anyways I got the train. And it was not a bad journey to Birmingham New Street where I did have to make a connection to carry on to Cheltenham.
You know there are 24 platforms at that ruddy station. Of course they fob you off with just 12 platforms and then call them A and B and if you want to use a lift you’ll always find them at the end of platform A. Where does the ruddy train stop? Yeah. Quite. B. And why is it that I always, with 7 minutes to spare, end up walking behind two middle aged people who decide they're still definitely in love and must walk side by side as if in the park on a Sunday afternoon? A great heaving mass of irritable commuters all bunched up behind trying desperately to get from platform 4A to 12B – i.e. the opposite end of Birmingham New Street? Not to mention the horde of commuters walking against us equally worried that they’ll miss their train on platform 4!
Well, I got there and I think the wheel of my case hit the bloke’s foot and I heard some muttering and then a load more footsteps behind me, all leaping into the gap I’d created. Hey, can you imagine me in the days of wearing that old Heartbeat uniform?! Wicked, as my frigging great nephews say, thereby reminding me of just how ancient I am.
Well we got to platform 12b literally as the train was drawing in. A mass off, and a mass on. Almost. All of us by now had become very orderly. The brits are good at queues after all. Very orderly and patient. Standing to the right of the door. People alighting the train – no bozo, not flying, it means stepping off, god stack me what school did you go to? You didn’t? That figures.
Well anyway suddenly there’s this bod. Quite attractive actually. Sort of mid to late 40s, lawyer’s type suit, you know, skirt and jacket and bow tie and a look that could freeze a guy in the dock from 50 yards. Oh. And Blonde. Oh yeah, and bright lipstick.
Why was she reminding me of Geisha Girl? The small steps. I mean, really tiny steps, inching her way as if she wasn’t there but hell bent on somehow squeezing between me in this 12 inch gap between the carriage step and the queue; and then elbows and brief case up the backside. Not looking at me. I didn’t exist despite my own wheelly case, brief case on shoulder and a two grand Mac book in there.
What do I do?
Part of me said step to the left and let geisha girl step on. The other part said eff off. Wait your turn girlie and don’t try the lawyer look either; coz you’re looking at one, albeit blessedly retired.
Another part was of the devil. That part won. So I stepped in closer and made her gap 6 inches instead.
A bump up the backside again right at the moment I was stepping on with my left foot. Now, how she did it I don’t know, but geisha girl manages to get one tiny step onto the train. And with a swift movement, briefcase and all, she was stood alongside me. Stage two. Geisha girl now wants to get into the actual carriage. She wants that table. I want that table. Now I don’t know what it is that flicks a switch but it sort of just does, and it’s always in public places and in what I call “potential conflict situations”. I guess it goes back to all those days on the beat; all those parade squares in the other lot.
No. it’s alright. After you. (begrudgingly)
No. Go. (she looks slightly surprised)
No it’s alright, after you really.
Look. I’ve said go. Now GO! MOVE IT!!
Poor geisha girl. I guess she’s never heard or been on the receiving end of a military barked order. I quite enjoyed it. Got quite a thrill. She got to the table. Decided she didn’t like the table, decided to move on, and well, after that I don’t know, because I got the table and I was able to get back to writing.
But even now, the funniest moment for me was recalling this very middle class lady, beautifully dressed, taking these mega-tiny chopstick steps and almost mating with me via her ruddy briefcase.
Ha-ha – hey, you know I said I made the train this time?
Well, the last two trips from Birmingham New Street to Cheltenham have been at 30 mph. No. Listen. It’s true. 30 mph. “Sorry ladies and gentlemen for the delay. But we have a very long freight train in front us and there is no siding long enough to allow us to overtake.” So of course today, I’m thinking we’re coming into Cheltenham at the same speed. Well even I get things wrong some times!! I looked up – thought it was the outskirts of Tewkesbury, when in fact it was the frigging platform one. Cheltenham. Sorry, Cheltenham Spa as they insist on saying.
Suddenly, bags, Mac book slammed shut and thrown in briefcase, combat jacket, scarf, glasses, where are the ruddy glasses? Then that ding, ding, ding, ding, ding as you know the doors are about to lock; and I sort of fell out onto platform one.
The worst thing was it was in full view of my elder sister standing half way up the steps with the look that she used as Head Girl and which she can hold to this day. “Oh Hi Carol!”
“Hi. Nothing’s changed I see! Eventful journey? We're parked over there,” and that whimsical smile, the one that tells me Dad's still around!
A life in the day of an author – ha-ha.