I was visiting Taff and his wife Ann in Braintree, which is just a bit north of London. Although apparently it requires more effort to travel there from Manchester than it does to mount an Apollo mission to the Moon. It also costs as nearly much as a moon mission as well.
I knew I was in for trouble when the journey from Manchester to London Euston was actually pleasant. In my experience travelling on Virgin trains is normally about as much fun as removing my own eyeballs with a blunt and dirty spoon. However, this time I had a comfortable seat in an air conditioned carriage (last time I had to sit in the corridor between carriages for 3 hours), and more importantly it only took 2 hours and 5 minutes. Inconceivable!
It couldn't last, having blundered my way around the Tube at rush hour, I arrived bleary eyed and shell-shocked at London Liverpool St. I don't know how people in London cope with it, I have never been around so many rude and pushy people. You could tell I was just a visitor, at one point as I got on what I hoped was the correct Tube train, I stopped to let a lady go ahead of me. The shock on the woman's face was a picture, mirrored no doubt on my own as half a dozen business suited men took advantage of my largesse and barged in front of me. Anyway, on arrival at Liverpool St, I crammed myself on to a train going up towards Chelmsford. I sat huddled on the floor of the carriage with hundreds of others waiting in vain for the train to move. Here's why it didn't...
Due to a line failure all trains going up were stopped and I had to remove myself and trail disconsolately about till an announcement led me towards the only train going anywhere. Which would go only half as far as I needed it to and because it was the only train, it was packed. I was literally chest to chest with people around me. You didn't need to hold onto anything as your immediate neighbours propped you up very effectively. I ended up having a fascinating conversation with the two gentlemen facing me. We wondered why it was that in situations such as that we were currently experiencing, you never end up squashed up against an attractive member of the opposite sex.
For example, if you are male you end up in terrifyingly close quarters with big sweaty men. This is not pleasant. This then led to a debate as to whether you would want to be that close to an attractive member of the opposite sex in such a situation as we found ourselves. Due to the sheer number of bodies crammed in the carriage, the temperature was possibly in the region of the heat of the Sun. This meant that everyone was sweating like pigs and not at their most presentable. A young lady crammed up against the door a few feet and several human layers away from us chirped up to say, that she certainly wouldn't want to be crammed against fat sweaty men, if she could possibly avoid it. A comment with which most, including it must be said, us three fat sweaty men wholeheartedly agreed with.
The whole journey from London Euston to Liverpool St and then on to Shenfield took nearly four hours, double the time it took to get from Manchester to Euston. And Taff still had to come down to Shenfield to meet me! Still, it gave me an opportunity to drink ridicuously expensive lager while I waited for him (why oh why can they not put a head on a pint of beer?). Oh well, it was worth it in the end, I got to coo over baby Joshua (who still hasn't vomited on me - good lad), drink beer, talk randomness and watch bad movies.
Oh and on the way back on Sunday, huge chunks of the Tube were shut just to make the journey back that little bit more unpleasant!