Hang on, isn’t that the title to an Ocean Colour Scene song?
Well, for me and Fizz it was a journey home from a fantastic conference and social; with The Molly Watt Trust which saw us take a rather different diversion to one I would have expected.
Friday 15th September saw a terror attack on a London tube train at Parsons Green in South West London. One that yet again reminded us as a country that there are those among us who wish to hurt, mame and distroy the lives of innocent people.
This was a reminder that being vigilant and staying safe (especially when travelling) was very important. It was why I had questioned if I should travel to the event this weekend in Maidenhead.
But I decided Maidenhead was far enough away from London not to allow it to affect my plans. I had planned and double checked all of my travel arrangements and the walk from the station to the hotel several times over (nothing different in that, I do it each time)
So, Fizz and I packed our case and off we went. The train journey saw us change at Reading. A station that has undergone lots of work to give it one central walkway, which is up above the train platforms and access is gained to the platforms by escalators and lifts. The central concorse is home to shops and a verse open space.
This gave to it a very ’empty’ feel. It also made it hard for me to find assistance to help me negotiate to the correct platform to travel from Reading onto Maidenhead. So having finally found assistance, we were able to continue with our journey.
It was at this point the staff member that helped us let me know that for the weekend most of Reading railway station would be closed for routine work, with buses replacing trains.
That wasn’t an issue, it would simply just delay or trip home. Not one I was concerned about.
Well, returning to Maidenhead railway station on Saturday saw me and Fizz greated by friendly GWR train staff, they asked me where I was heading and gave me a diversion that I was not expecting.
Given the bus replacement services, I could get a bus to Reading, where I would then transfer to another bus and travel onto Basingstoke. Where I would then get a train to Southampton before the final leg of the journey on a train to fareham.
I could go to London!
A direct train would see us arrive at London Paddington in just over half an hour. Where we could get a tube on the Bakerloo lint to Oxford Circus before transferring to the Victoria Line Tube, to London Victoria from where I would be able to get a direct train to Fareham.
Given the events of Friday in London I was anxious, but at the thought of saving over an hour on the journey home, I had to put my anxieties to one side and just go with it and know, that if anything given Fridays’ incident, people would be more alert and hopefully helpful.
We soon arrived at London Paddington, not long had I stepped off the train with Fizz and stood to the side to gain my bearings than i was approached by a Policeman. He introduced himself to me, explained who he was and asked me how he could help.
I explained I was trying to get to the tube station to get across London, so he took me to a member of staff who worked for transport for London (TfL) who kindly walked me and Fizz through the crowds and straight to the right tube train. He put us in the front carriage and radio’d through to a colleague at Oxford Circus.
And sure enough a lovely TfL staff member was waiting for me and Fizz. She walked us through to the Victoria Line, where again she placed me and Fizz in the front carriage and radio’d ahead.
All of these journey’s were taking place late afternoon early evening on a Saturday, a day that is by its very nature a busy day. But everyone I came into contact with was chatty, friendly and happy to offer help.
Maybe it was because of Friday’s attack, but everyone in London and especially on the Tube on Saturday seemed to be much more ‘together’ much less rushed and more friendly to those around them that weren’t ‘natives’ to this vast city.
Arriving at Victoria tube station, me and Fizz were greated by a fantastic TfL member of staff. He not only guided us through the tube station, he also allowed us to ‘cut through’ locked gates and closed escalators to enable us to get through to the main Victoria Train station, where he was all ready to take me to my platform to get my train, before I said I would be having a break at the station, take Fizz out for some grass and get a much needed coffee. He kindly walked us to the exit for the park and wished us safe travels.
The TfL staff and both police and transport police get a lot of ‘stick’ for just doing their jobs, they are not always praised for it. I wanted to write this blog to show my appreciation.
I have always received great support from staff and police while travelling. But Saturday was over and above what I had ever expected. London police were out in force and clearly had a job to do.
The initial police office did not HAVE TO offer his help, but he did.
The TfL staff member didn’t have to radio ahead for assistance to wait for me, but he did.
The second TfL staff member didn’t have to radio ahead to Victoria, but again….. She did.
And just as the last member of TfL staff didn’t have to take me on a ‘shortcut’ or guide me right to my train platform….. He did (or rather would have had we not detoured to a grass spot!)
So, a journey that sounded horrendous was made so much more bearable by kindness and friendliness of strangers. Because the support didn’t stop there. Several times as Victoria train station I was asked by both staff and fellow travellers if I needed any help.
And even on our train home, one that due to my own mistake would see me and Fizz needing to change just one last time (I got on the Portsmouth train, instead of the Southampton train) But with a simple step off one train and Havant and then almost straight back on another train (without the need to change platforms) I received so much support and offers of help.
I think it sometimes takes a horrible event, like that of Friday for people to come together and support those around them that may not find the journey as easy as them.
I would like to extend my thanks to all the men and women who helped me and others in and around London over the last few days.
…….. THANK YOU …….