Hello and a very warm welcome to my newly relaunched blog. I'm Paul a 40 year old family man from the UK. In this complex, information overload 21st century world, too often we lose sight of what's really important. Here I want to celebrate life, share inspirational stories, throw the spotlight on charities and causes close to my heart. Looking forward to sharing this journey with you all.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Wheelie good fun - all are bored!
I've been a regular on the good old GNER now National Express east coast line to destination North for many a year now since I glided into the dark side that is IT infrastructure land so I've learnt a trick or two about getting through the frustrations of it all...
People watching is at its absolute peak here at the mighty Kings Cross, where the truly dedicated
Harry Potter afficinado can actually find the fabled Platform 9 3/4. But the prospect of thudding a trolley into a solid brick wall in the hope that the muggles won't be the wiser is nothing compared with the great challenge that lies ahead for me now.
For as the infrequent travellers gather in huge droves in front of the board, almost transfixed by the prospect of that all important platform announcement, the wiley few make their early plays. You'd have thought that at some point in proceedings those hoping to catch the next train to Leeds would be tempted to glance at that tiny little extra screen in the corner which tells you which platform the latest arrival has got into.
Now it doesn't take a degree in diesel engine studies to reach the conclusion - hang on, why don't I stand near the entrance for that platform then I'll be right up the front of the queue. And you see them a gathering, first one or two with knowing little smirks, maybe they get this train every few days, trying to look oh so casual, but the fidgeting with the portable suitcases marks them out - they are ready. Standing there, with these lucky few you get an overwhelming rush of satisfaction, safe in the knowledge it'll be a nice warm seat tonight.....
The minutes tick by, still no official confirmation -moments of panic set in, these trains are all pretty much the same, what if I've backed the wrong horse, what they change the platform -but thats quickly replace with the awareness that there are ever more lurkers gathering. And despite your sneaky positioning suddenly a small crowd of suitcase wheeling wanabees are surrounding you, boxing you in.
When the clock hits the 15 minutes to go, its literally seconds from show time and the adrenalin you long for after such a dull day finally arrives - and for me the experience is always heightened if you imagine the bassy tones of the BBC Formula 1 racing tune, and look across at the feisty characters lining up on the grid....
Then woosh, up it comes, and away they go, giddy little school girl steps a plenty on that initial lift off, a couple of early trolley clashes set the tone, but its all fair in competitions of this magnitude. The challenge is achieve the ultra purposeful stride - heaven forbid you actually break into a run at any point - it simply isn't cricket. A few of you may recall the classic Ben Elton sketch from shiny suited Saturday Night live days - "Double seat, Double seat, gotta get a double seat" - sorry to say Ben we're in a new millenium and there is a whole new enemy to overcome - the ability to reserve seats on line!!!!
You're charging along, but maybe you've got stuck a little behind a family with a pushchair,in the go-slow zone you can see a few streaming past you on the outside, but its ok we're still not past first class I can still make up the ground. But as you glance to the left at the dimly lit carriages, they are there for all to see, white ticket after ticket smothering every seat in site, you'll have to push on, get on now and the table a forelorn dream, a single seat with your legs rammed in tight all there is to hope for now but wait....
Beyond the rainbow, (or usually around about coach C) you may find those seats the early fools who ducked out in reservesville can only dream of - its a table, it has power, I have laptop, I have lift off!!! Whick whack the wheely trolley has served its purpose, into the racks, the finish line reached long before those poor unfortunates with the holdalls and the faith in the timetabling system, smugness and satisfaction abound, home james, thankyou very much.
But as the train fills again, the guilt zone appears - almost before you can stretch out those toes the half-term tripping family desperately trying to hold themselves together in the midst of bickerings arrive en mass in the gangways, smacking bags into shoulders and hunting for the miracle of a sit togther option. It goes on till I can't stands it no more, up I get with one last heroic flush squeak something about letting them sit together and switch to the backwards facing elbow crushing exile of an aisle seat - no power, a half-built tray to rest my battered laptop on but still the treasured memories of my triumph of human competitive spirit over common sense.
For in a small coach/ galaxy not too far away there are dozens of table seats with little white tickets on them just waiting to be sat in, because its London, the trains are every half an hour, and who knows which train you'll end up on, so they never took them up. And in them sit the saunterers, the casual ones, who didn't follow the trolley dash, they didn't even put in the work in carriage land, they just turned up, set off and sat down...where's the fun in that!!!