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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

I got to the platform with about 30 seconds to spare before the train was due to arrive. The signs at the train station are forever scrolling through a variety of information, which I find sticks in my brain every morning if I stare at them too hard, and so I know the exact order of each and every train station between here and Liverpool Street, which runs through my head in a monotone, much akin to the manner in which the shipping forecast is delivered.

It took me a moment to realise that the train time, rather than reading "10.06 - due 10.09 - 10.06 - due 10.09" or some such spurious and quite often highly inaccurate information, was instead reading "10.06 - cancelled - 10.06 - cancelled".

Oh bums, I thought, since I'd left myself less than an hour to get to the Ritz in time. I considered my options, and decided, instead of asking the man napping in the ticket office above the platform that I'd ring the train information service people, because I thought that talking to someone in Newcastle, Belfast or Bangladesh was just the thing I needed at that moment.

I got through to Newcastle, and a jolly young man asked me for the route of my intended journey. I told him I was already standing in the train station, and that the information sign was saying "10.06 - cancelled - 10.06 - cancelled" over and over again in what, I suspected, was a mildly smug tone. I asked the man, who was sitting directly beside Scotland and therefore quite far from where I was shivering in my skirt and frankly fantastic boots, if the next train would be arriving any time soon.

The man considered it for a moment, and then told me that the 10.06 had been cancelled. Yes, good, I thought, he's looking in the right direction at least. "Mmhm," I said, hoping to prompt him in to further information. I glanced down the track. Something glinted in the morning sunlight.

"There's been a fire in a signal box," the man continued, "so the 10.06 has been cancelled."

"Yes," I said, hoping he'd carry on with some information that we hadn't both already established, as I squinted down the tracks to try to make out clearly what the big, square, metal thing on wheels was coming towards us.

"There won't be any more trains on that line for at least two more hours."

"Right," I said, "two hours?"

"At least," he continued, as I watched the 10.06 pull into the platform in front of me.

"Okay, so," I said, boarding the train, "I'll go get a bus. Thanks for your help."

"No problem," he replied, clearly confused by the beeping noise he could hear down my phone that could only be the closing doors of the 10.06 to Liverpool Street.


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