Monday, May 07, 2007

In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning (the sequel)

Off up to Leeds again on Thursday morning. This time the course kicked off at 9, so my colleague CE and I were on what I believe is known as the Red Eye Express from London. I was up at quarter past four, rocked up (literally) at Hitchin Station for ten to six, bidding a cheery good morning to the bleary-eyed station master and strolled over the Platform 1 to await the arrival of the 06:04, which I confidently expected to be deserted. Imagine my surprise, then, when I boarded to find that there was barely a seat to be had (okay, I’m exaggerating slightly for effect, but it was still quite busy). And it got me thinking – it’s so nice and peaceful at that time in the mornings. More people should try getting up then. Though I suppose that wouldn’t help with the peace and quiet.

The other thing that struck me about the early morning trains is that they all seemed to be running early. Not on time, mark you, early. I had ambled down to the station more slowly than planned – my head was a little fuzzy - and so missed the 05:54. This was slightly annoying, because my connection at Stevenage was due at quarter past six, and I hadn’t wanted to cut it too fine in case of any delays on the way there. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried, because the train turned up a couple of minutes before the clock struck six. I got on it, stood by the door in a “I’m not going to be on here long enough for it to be worth sitting down” sort of a way, and waited for the gentle jolt of locomotion.

Nothing happened.

Nonchalantly reaching down to rummage through my (ludicrously full) bag – I really should clean it out from time to time: there was dirty underwear in there from the last time I went to Leeds 2 weeks ago – I could not help but notice that several people, who had already been on the train when it pulled in, got up and left. The doors closed automatically behind them, which never normally happens – normally the driver shuts them just before the train pulls out, and even spookier there’s no button to shut them on the outside of the train, so it was almost as if they were acting of their own accord. It started to feel a little bit like that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when the shield doors of the Hoth base are closed with Luke and Han still lost in the snow, in which the combination of dramatic music and Chewbacca’s anguished howl serve to make the closing of the gates portentous.

After what seemed like hours, the train rumbled into life, and we pulled out of the platform on our way to Stevenage. Bizarrely enough, those people who had got off the train whilst we had been sat there didn’t return, so I was left to imagine them emerging from the toilets or the coffee shop or whatever, being bemused to find an empty platform, and standing there, lost and confused, for the rest of the day, or at least until the nice lady at the ticket office (who always helps me when I’ve lost my ticket) came to take them away and stick them in a taxi.

The rest of the journey was all a bit dull, really. No delays, no fearsome old women buying tea at the coffee shop, and even Leeds was suspiciously free of eccentrics. The only slightly unusual thing was that two of the three cashpoints on the station concourse at Leeds were out of service, so I had to queue for ages, in which time CE had time to get herself some breakfast, use the loo, and have several cups of tea. The course was fun and interesting, but by far the most significant aspect of the day, for me, was that I managed to get home before the chippy shut, and because I was the last customer, I got a free piece of fish. Now that’s worth getting up early for.


At 6:29 AM GMT+1 , Blogger paddy said...

There's something about early morning travelling I like; it's the getting up part that poses for me, more of a problem.
The sense of being quote: "Somewhere in between
The ticking and the tocking clock
Somewhere in a dream between
Sleep and waking up
Somewhere in between
Breathing out and breathing in
Like twilight is neither night nor morning" I can't say it better.
The chipper,jesus I miss the fish and chips; no such thing here in Finland...expecially that nearly extinct fresh / smoked cod. O man, make that a double will you, and if I ever come to Hitchin, Hertfordshire I'll look you up for directions - I'll pay for the chip supper. Y:-) Paddy

At 10:30 PM GMT+1 , Blogger JD said...

Sounds great. What's it like in Finland by the way?


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