Staying cool on the Misery Train

It\’s a busy week this week, and there\’s not much time to look after the blog. But something made me smile this evening. There was only one thing for it dashing home tonight – the 6.33 Misery Train from Waterloo East, because it bought me precious minutes in the race to get home for the white hot relegation battle dismal evening of bad football at The Valley, Charlton v Doncaster. (For tonight\’s entertainment in SE7 and SE10, it competed with Tina Turner\’s first UK comeback show at the Dome – it was a long way from Simply The Best, I tell you.) The Misery Train is an awful experience, only eight coaches long for a long haul to Gillingham. It\’s busy at the best of times, but on football nights it\’s always packed to the gills, and there\’s always people shouting abuse and banging the windows at London Bridge because they can\’t get on. Tonight, in the rain, was no different.

(There is a second, longer and more civilised, train to Charlton, four minutes later, which I usually prefer to catch; followed by another close-knit pairing of trains 20 minutes afterwards. This is Southeastern\’s way of sticking two fingers up at anyone who might like to get home nice and quickly, or to the match. A bit like their weird habit of packing Blackheath station out with ticket inspectors, while leaving other stations alone.)

I stood in the middle of the train, unable to squeeze into the only remaining seat – I\’m no lard-arse, but three strange men can\’t sit in comfort together on one of those trains, and one of them had his laptop out, hammering away at some sort of spreadsheet. Nobody else seemed to want it either. I looked at the rain hammering it down on the platform at London Bridge, the glum faces around me, and the middle-aged chap on his spreadsheet. If I ever ended up playing with Microsoft Excel on my train home, I thought, please shoot me.

We pulled into Blackheath, and a load of people got off to face more hassle from the ticket inspectors, freeing up some room to sit down for the remaining couple of minutes. I parked myself opposite Laptop Man, who\’d packed up his work. And then noticed his cufflinks. They bore a photo of James Dean. How cool was that? On a train that\’s usually full of miserable, unhelpful souls, a shining light from someone not afraid to display some enthusiasm for something. And I realised that if I ended up in my 50s bashing away at some poxy spreadsheet on the 6.33 to Dullsville – there\’d still be some hope yet.

One comment

  1. Shudder!

    I remember that particular train too bleedin’ well. Having to catch it was one of the things I was trying to escape by moving away from SE7 (and the Smoke as a whole).

    Of course, it’d be nice to have a station less than a day’s walk away for the occasional journey, but you get used to it…

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