Tonight I had the pleasure of fully understanding how Andre Greipel feels this season. You wait in vain for that train to take you home and it either takes you too far or never comes. In my case a bit of both.
It’s a regular story for those of us whose commute takes in the stretch of railway between Wolverhampton and Birmingham – The Tipton Boys had been out again stripping metal and in the process leaving a trail of travel chaos as signals fail to work, points stick and, as tonight, there is a major power outage. Usually this means a detour past the delights of Sandwell Valley Park and Bescot (one of these is recorded ironically) to arrive in Wolverhampton delayed but still there. But not tonight.
Tonight the 16.57 to Manchester decided to miss out Wolverhampton all together. An announcement after we had left Birmingham informed passengers the first stop would be Stafford. I looked up. The bloke opposite me looked up. A vague expletive was uttered and then the train manager appeared. The train manager’s name was Paul. He wouldn’t give his surname when asked but he did remind me of Blakey from On the Buses should you ever come across him on Cross Country Trains. And the Blakey similarities don’t end there. When asked how I would get back to Wolverhampton I was told I couldn’t. When asked why the was no indication that the service would not stop at Wolverhampton he told me he had – and he had 102 witnesses down the train. OK, so I was late joining the train but there was no indication at New Street, no announcement that the service would be diverted so drastically. But Paul seemed to be having a bad day and almost picked a fight. It was a sad sight to see (though secretly I was hoping he was going to throw me off the train which would mean diverting back to Wolverhampton – case solved as Motty would say!).
What I noticed about this was 2 things. Firstly, Paul’s reaction was the nought-to-nuclear reaction I used to display, and if I’m honest can still be prone to. Flying off the cuff at the slightest feeling of criticism and pushing blame onto someone else. But secondly I noticed how I managed to deal with this inconvenience. No, I didn’t want to be in Stafford on a Tuesday evening with no known train back to Wolverhampton, particularly as the Stafford Arms is no more so no pint of Titanic. But hey, I got home and it only took 2 and a half hours – surely a new record Norris McWhirter?
And the reason for this story in what is also my cycling blog? Well, It almost cost me tonight’s ride. But it didn’t. Another 20 miles and after that escapade I’m pretty pleased with myself. But you have to agree waiting for trains that never come is total Madness.