It’s been over a week since my abortive attempt to buy some low cost photo frames at IKEA. My photographs languish, edges curling in the ‘to do’ pile and Mr Carmichael drives the Mini.
Mrs C is no syndicated television series so half of this post will not be a recap on previous episodes. All you need to know (if you don’t know already) is here: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Mrs Carmichael Reflects on Her Sunday…So Far). If you enjoy a full sensurround immersion take a moment and read it before you move on. It will put you in my mood.
I was ready for another outing and yesterday decided to let the train take the strain.
We are lucky in Chorleywood, transport-wise. Close to the M25 (London’s ring motorway) and with the M1, M40 and M4 handy as, we have driving choices. We also can take the tube or the train from our local station.
Ever since London Transport gave us Metropolitan Line users new rolling stock and at the same time stealthily did away with the out of rush hour fast and semi-fast journeys to and from London town, I have tended to use the bi-hourly Chiltern Turbo into Marylebone. It’s way more comfortable, doesn’t stop every few moments and is therefore faster, if slightly more expensive.
All of those things were true twenty four hours ago as I rocketed into the capital and down to the South Bank to meet my friend K……. for a Hayward gallery viewing (interesting………) and a nice lunch and catch up in the sunshine.
The gallery visit didn’t take too long (but it is a good thing to expose oneself de temps en temps to the arts isn’t it?), finding the gallery took me a little longer but I managed to snap some good shots while I was lost. I began to develop a blister but we had a good old natter over Mexican street food and a white wine in Wahaca’s ‘pop up’ restaurant – yum. A balanced yin/yang of good and not so good.
We kissed ‘goodbye’ at Waterloo Station. K…… headed south for a rapid and stress free trip to Surrey while I, once again, chose the Chiltern Line over the tube. Fool that I am.
Marylebone Station is a nice place as stations go. So when the tannoy announced that no trains were currently coming in or out I bought a coffee, tended to my, now fulsome, blister and chatted to an elderly gentleman who was awaiting the same service.
Problem fixed we were off and on time to boot.
Six minutes in, the train slowed and stopped. This is not uncommon and not a problem when the carriage is air-conditioned (tick), one has a seat (tick) and time pressure is minimal (tick).
However when the driver announces that the points have failed and that the train is going no further than Wembley Stadium the level of problemisity increases.
Not too much though because the Met Line stops at Wembley doesn’t it? I’ve seen the Wembley arch right there, right by my tube window millions of times. It’s all good.
Or is it?
No. It’s not.
“Anyone going to Aylesbury can stay on this service,” the driver informed us minutes later. “Those wanting to get off in-between need to disembark, walk to Wembley Park Station and get the Metropolitan line to Amersham. I’m not sure what you will do from there.” Yes, he actually said that.
I did not realise quite how many stations there are in Wembley. There’s Wembley Stadium (which is nowhere near the stadium and at which we were thrown off). There’s Wembley Park (which is closer to the stadium, on the Met line, and over a mile from Wembley Stadium Station). There’s Wembley Central (which, thank god, I know not the tiniest thing about) and I think there may be Wembley North too (but who cares?).
Here is a map of Wembley and her stations:
Here are the first set of steps we, the middle-aged, the mothers with babies, the elderly, the infirm the et al had to climb to get out of the station.
“Thank goodness it’s not raining,” people were chirruping, still with joie de vivre and in good old war-time spirits.
No one had a clue where to go. No one from the station helped us. No one from Chiltern Rail helped us.
My other foot, feeling left out, developed a blister.
I made friends with Brian and we agreed to get a taxi to Wembley Park Station and if those points were failing too, all the way home.
He was dressed smartly in a suit, suitable for a business meeting but not for the mile plus clip we had to make in the heat of the day. He began to undress. I wondered if a taxi together was sensible. But my feet were killing so I decided it was. There were none.
People asked if we knew where we were going and followed us even though we weren’t at all sure that we did know where we were going.
It was very hot. I put my hair up and dabbed my face with a tissue. Brian undid his shirt a few more buttons.
“I’m running out of puff,” the woman following us said. I think plenty had already run out of ‘puff’ and were probably in stages various of distress on Wembley’s mean streets.
We got to the station. The Met Line was running. We got on the first train although it was not going to the right place. Brian and I felt it was a good thing to do in case the points failure was following us up the line.
I involved my daughter, reminding her of all the collections/drop offs I had performed for her over the years. She came and got me from Moor Park Station. I did not offer Brian a ride because I wanted to take my shoes off and thought there was a very good chance my feet were bloody and smelly. They were. But I did wait to see if his train was scheduled. It was, thank the lord.
These football fans at Wembley Park Station look happy because 1) they are coming down the steps 2) they got off at the right station 3) they haven’t lost the match yet and 4) they are probably seven sheets to the wind.
But Chiltern Trains, I think you have a duty of care to your passengers that you did not fulfill yesterday. Where is the gentleman I talked to at Marylebone station? Is he ok? Did he get home? And the mother with the twins, double buggy and toddler? The woman who was ‘running out of puff’, what about her? And all the rest of us too.
Brian, I hope you got home ok, still sporting a few overgarments.
My friend, Gracie is coming to collect me in her new convertible in a moment and we shall seize the day, take a drive through the beautiful Chiltern countryside and find somewhere nice to lunch.
I hope my recent travelling travails do not jinx the outing.