Friday, December 05, 2008

The Little Commuter and Rush Hour

This week saw one of the Little Commuter's rare trips to London, for an appointment with a very nice Consultant who gave him a lovely clean bill of health. The same trip also brought his first experience of Rush Hour (the inaccurately-monikered three-hour period when London's commuters head for home, not the film with Jackie Chan, which he has yet to experience). He handled it very well.

In spite of the many innovations to have graced our local station in recent times - ticket barriers, a newsagent, ticket machines that actually work, and even monitors that don't flicker every three minutes - one thing they have yet to tackle is access. The Wife and I had timed our arrival to perfection, and would have been in plenty of time to catch the fast train if we hadn't had to negotiate the two sets of stairs that connect the London-bound platform 1 with the rest of the station. So we ended up getting the next train which turned out to be stopper, and our nice, leisurely lunch in the city turned into a madcap dash across the West End to get to our chosen eaterie in time to wolf down a paratha. Still, we made our appointment in plenty of time and the Little Commuter was full of smiles as the nurses poked and prodded him, only getting slightly annoyed when told he had to produce a urine sample (you can't just do these things to order, you know).

The news was good, and all was well as we made our merry way back to Kings Cross. One concern nagged at the back of our minds, however. The Little Commuter had not had his nap. When he should have been asleep, he was being poked and prodded by nurses. What this meant was that we faced the very real prospect of a tired baby on an over-crowded train. Oh well - at least it should drown out the Ipods.

He actually fell asleep in his pram on the way to the station, and great care was taken to give him a smooth ride so as not to wake him (not as easy as it sounds - our pram has a mind of its own). I stood with him and between us we took up most of the vestibule, so that when we got to Finsbury Park people had to squeeze around us like they were playing that Hole In the Wall game from off the telly. Glancing lovingly down at him for the umpteenth time, I was taken aback to see a pair of deep blue eyes gazing back at me. He was awake and not very happy about it.

It started with a whimper or two, but he was rapidly into his stride, giving his lungs a good workout as around us the commuters studiously ignored him. Then he spotted something out the window and chuckled fondly - it was his reflection, or it may have been mine. Either way, it seemed to please him. But he soon remembered how tired he was, and resumed his protestations. I picked him up, and attempted to calm him by holding him to my chest. Alas, the train was moving at a fair pace, and as I danced from foot to foot in an effort to keep my balance it must have been more like being on a rollercoaster for him.

At Stevenage as people shuffled past us in single file, I tried to put him back into his buggy so we were ready to disembark rapidly at Hitchin, and that was the clincher for him. Perhaps he couldn't see his reflection from his chair. Whatever the reason he decided to give full voice to his feelings, and for the next few minutes the passengers on the twenty past four from Kings Cross were treated to a most unusual soundtrack as they sped thorugh the Hertfordshire countryside. Everyone was very nice about it, and that brought home to me once more the essential paradox of the behaviour of the commuting herd. When everything is going fine they grumble and snipe. As soon as something goes awry, however, everyone starts being nice. It's probably something to do with the Blitz.


At 5:58 PM GMT , Blogger DJ Kirkby said...

I am glad to hear LC got a clean bill of health. A trip to London with a young child is not my idea of a good time but sounds as if it was worth the effort.

At 1:45 PM GMT , Blogger savannah said...

all things considered, sugar, sounds as if all y'all had a good trip! happy birthday to the little commuter! xoxox

(thanks for stopping by again, darlin, always good to see you!)


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