42068 & 42039
I caught the 07:57 from Reading into Paddington this morning and sat in Carriage B, 42068, next to one of the most ungracious bag-seat hogger people I’ve ever come across.
On the way home, I was on the 19:03 to Plymouth and somehow managed to bag a double seat in Carriage D, 42039 whilst everyone else seemed to be sitting on each other’s laps.
Now the observant amongst you will have instantly thought to yourselves, “but hey, BGC, why on earth were you taking a morning train from Reading? And 07:57, that’s usually the time you’re in London and looking fabulous on the tube?”
And the simple answer to this is every commuter’s nightmare – you arrive at the station and every single train is marked as “Cancelled” or “Delayed” and the only thing you can hear is FGW’s unapologetic pre-recorded apology recording.
The reasons behind this almost daily debacle range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Apparently there were signalling issues in Newbury (honestly, at the moment it’s like all the stations are taking turns in having this sort of problem) but also a dead body had been found in a tunnel between Bristol and Bath.
And who told me of this rather macabre discovery?
Why none other than Nice Peter, the shaggy and rather scruffy ticket office man at Thatcham station.
Peter is a lovely bloke and quite obviously doesn’t get the support he deserves from the rest of the FGW rumbling machine. Firstly whenever there is any sort of issue he leaves the protection of his bullet proof glass box and wanders up and down the platform explaining the situation as he knows it to the waiting passengers. He also addresses us all as “gang” – “Hi gang, ‘fraid to say that I’ve got nothing coming through for the next hour at least” he’ll say with the tail of his crumpled shirt hanging out.
He also speaks to every person approaching his ticket box and tells them what’s going on. So it was rather strange to hear immediately after him telling someone that as far as he knew there were no trains and there were busses on the way, the warning claxon of the barriers being lowered on the level crossing. Turns out that there was a rogue turbo on its way to Reading that we could all jump on and at least continue our disrupted journeys from there. Poor Peter, trying his hardest and keeping everyone as calm as possible and yet kept in the dark just as much as the rest of us mushrooms.
I was somewhat disappointed there to see then that my tweet in praise of Nice Peter not be “favourited” or “re-tweeted” by @FGW.
Mind you, they were very very busy, giving terse replies, such as this one, to their beloved customers.
Oh, last minute P.S. – I’ve just been followed by @FGWBPW, the Ambassadors from Bristol. Oi, Brizzle Ambassadors, send Peter a nice purple waistcoat will you? He’d be even better talking to his “gang” with his shirt under control!