Saturday, 5 December 2009

A fruitful journey

Regular readers may recall I missed a First Great Western train to the Cotswolds recently because of huge queues at the ticket machines at Paddington Station.

I've just made the same journey again.  I wasn't going to get caught twice so this time I got to Paddington with half an hour to spare - and there were no queues at all.  How could two Friday night rush hours be so different?  It's not as if First Great Western has installed loads of extra machines or doubled staffing levels at the ticket office in response to my email of complaint.

Missing the train last time meant I arrived an hour late. This time, I alighted at Charlbury a mere 15 minutes behind schedule.  This was caused by a long sit at Reading Station.  The guard - sorry, train manager - a close relation of Les Dawson at his most lugubrious, informed us this was thanks to a staff no-show.  He had agreed to do the job instead.

"I didn't have to," he deadpanned.  "I could have refused and then this train would have been taken out of service.  So yippee for me!"

One station later, we experienced another, more minor delay.  Mr Dawson's less cheerful cousin was soon back on the mic with the explanation.  "A passenger got out of the front carriage and didn't close the door.  I've just had to walk the entire length of this train to close it."  Yes, it was all about him.

I didn't know whether to be appalled at this lack of professionalism or cheered by a bit of British eccentricity.

My friend picked me up from the station.  Rather than just sit and wait for the delayed train, he explained, he had used the extra 15 minutes to drive off and buy some blueberries.  Unfortunately, he didn't add that he had left the blueberries on the passenger seat.  Ah well, they were destined for the topping of a blueberry cheesecake, so he'd have had to have pur√©ed them later in any case.  Shame about the leather upholstery, though....

After that, the weekend went pretty smoothly which was almost a disappointment. 

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