Beware the dangers of complacency. I boarded the 17:22 from London Victoria to Gypsy Hill yesterday. It was boiling hot and the heat combined with the movement of the train made me sleepy. I dozed. At some point I became aware that the train had stopped. I and my fellow passengers where stuck in no man’s land between Battersea Park and Clapham Junction station. The windows where open but the lack of motion rendered this fact of little consequence. I along with my fellow commuters made the best of a sticky (in more than one sense of the word) situation. People read their papers. a man complained to someone or other rather loudly on his mobile that he was stuck on a train, he hated the idea of driving for 2 hours to get somewhere or other that evening but that he would, reluctantly make the effort, while a gentleman with what a former colleague of mine used to call “issues” wandered up and down the train talking to all and sundry.
The driver was brilliant keeping us informed of what was happening. Apparently someone had collapsed in Clapham station and paramedics where in attendance.
Oh the dangers of complacency. There I was expecting the journey to take 25 minutes maximum. I’d alight at Gypsy Hill, enjoy a cooling pint in my favourite pub on the way home and reach my flat at a relatively early hour. however we remained stuck in no man’s land for about half an hour. Originally the driver announced that the train when it got going once more would run as normal to Crystal Palace but would then be fast until London Bridge. I smiled smugly as Gypsy Hill is the station prior to Crystal Palace so I would, once the train got going have a relatively (although much lengthier than anticipated) journey. Alas it was not to be. After 20 minutes or so our friendly driver announced that when we got moving the train would return to Battersea Park and passengers would need to make their way from that station homewards.
When we finally got moving and pulled into Battersea that well known military strategist, General Chaos took charge of the situation. We where directed to platform 5 only to find that trains to Crystal Palace where not going from there. A man entertained us by attempting to use the help phone located on the platform. What fun he had standing there for several minutes listening to “please wait, please wait”! When he was finally connected the operator had no idea of what was happening but at least it is good to know that someone or other is being kept in business to answer the helpline!
To cut a long story short I was helped by a fellow passenger to catch my train on platform 3 and I arrived at my destination around 2 hours later than I should have done.
My poor dog was panting like a steam train while stuck on the train (wearing a thick hairy coat which one can not take off is no fun in this weather)! Thankfully one of the station staff gave him a drink at Battersea and he was none the worse for his experience. Dare I take the train today I ask myself!