At the risk of sounding like a little old lady – at the ripe age of 24 – I have reached the point whereby I count my blessings and think myself lucky, should I manage to make it into the office in the morning, in one piece. The much mused upon gripe of the 21st century –public transport in central London- is no doubt about it, excruciatingly painful and becoming so much worse by the day. On both my journeys to and from work I battle through traffic on the motorway, make piece with being wedged between two extra-large latte-wielding women on Chiltern Railways, dodge pedestrians as I weave through endless crowds, stand windswept and water-logged in the autumnal elements awaiting my bus, board aforementioned bus and slip over whilst attempting to maintain my composure and yes, of course, I squeeze myself onto a sardine-can of a tube car, face pressed up against many an armpit of equally disparaging fellow passengers. Finally, at the end of an exhausting day, in manner of Ab Fab’s Eddy & Patsy, I fall out of my returning train, totally bedraggled and stinking to high heaven either of that ubiquitously pungent trademark railway smell- that hideously foul combination of dirt, human remains and industrial strength disinfectant- or of fermenting-meat; courtesy of my neighbor’s après-work Cornish pasty snack; because, of course, where else –but a train – would you rather graze on a pasty? Yuck! But, in the last few weeks, my journeys have become much more disturbing than the norm; in short, they are simply a daily assault on the senses. Chiltern Railways was haunted for a whole day by a poor old –possibly drunken- female soul, relentless in her attempts to top her self – or so it appeared – as she traipsed up and down the line that connects central London to the Southeasterly Home Counties. As a result, trains were crammed, hundreds were late, thousands were really late, the trains eventually stopped running completely and plenty of people were thoroughly pissed off. Who knows, perhaps it would please said lunatic lady if she knew that her suicide attempts had profoundly – if indirectly- affected many peoples lives that day. Closer to home, whilst waiting for my bus one morning, I was abruptly knocked off my feet –and almost knocked unconscious- by an enormous young man who seemingly forgot to keep his eyes open whilst walking. That blow really hurt; I delicately perched myself down on a seat of the bus and gathered my quivering nerves together as Tweetie-pies circled my head. Note-to-self- do not neglect your instincts to check in your pocket, once a minute, for your Travel card/ Oyster/ Railcar pouch (delete as appropriate) even for a moment; the moment you think your safe – Bam! You left it on the bus! I do not even want to go into it – mostly, because I know that I am partially –or mostly- culpable for the hassle that I endured because of it. So, lets disregard that one. But, I do not accept blame from a rude, ignorant ape-man of a bus driver shouting at me for standing in the wrong place on the bus. There I was, simply standing, minding my own business. Little did I know I was pissing this man off quite a lot; needless to say, it was my fault that we were in terrible traffic – so he shouted manically at me through his grimy glass partition. I stayed quite calm, apologized and said nothing more, then I took down the license plate to report him. Incidentally, these mishaps have been received with much derision in the office; ‘No, you have to be tough here – tell them that they are arse-holes!’ and ‘Just let it wash over your Londoner’s traveling shield – ever wonder why we travel with that glazed look in our eyes – that’s why!’ The lesson therein, I think, is that 21st century public transport and I simply do not mix.


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