I boarded the train from Barnsley to Sheffield at 12:40pm, and watched the grey and gloomy world pass by outside the window as we trundled between railway stations along the way. The railway car bumped it’s way along, rocking this way and that as it hit bumps in the track – and not without reason. It turns out parts of the northern rail network are still using old rolling stock from the days of British Rail – these particular cars were converted from coach bodies many years ago, and pressed into service as trains. Although England is famous for the industrial revolution, it should also be famous for cutting corners, and lashing things together to “make do”.
The train reminded me somewhat of the place I grew up – where half the town was built for the nearby Royal Air Force base in the 1960s – a sea of pre-fabricated houses. They were designed to last 20 years. Most of them are still there. I remember the rotten fences being replaced during my teenage years, but beyond that, they are still the concrete houses and blocks of flats of my youth.
The journey home was unspectacular. Sheffield seemed to be gearing up for a sea of passengers – with temporary barricades everywhere to funnel passengers through the station. I spent most of my half-an-hour between trains listening to a guy play a public piano in the departures hall. At first I thought him rather good, but then realised he was playing the same two songs over and over again.
The train from Sheffield to Leamington Spa was full to the rafters. I managed to get on quickly and bag a seat – better than last time when I spent the first half hour of the journey sitting on my bag in the connecting area between train carriages. I sat next to a hipster wannabe, slouching at an alarming angle, seemingly on purpose. I almost fell asleep listening to music on my phone before he nudged me in order to get off at Birmingham.
Leamington Spa railway station was it’s wonderful self – almost a time capsule of the 1920s. I sat in the waiting lounge for the final train of my journey and pretended to busy myself reading Twitter on my phone – when in reality I was earwigging the conversation of a male and female co-worker standing across from me. Let’s just say it became rather awkward.
The final hour of my journey was spent crammed onto a two carriage train that should have had four carriages. The hour passed relatively swiftly thanks to the podcast app on my phone, and my disregard for getting billed for blowing the data cap to bits on my phone. The folks that make the “Big Show” on the British Tech Network deserve all sorts of thanks for making me grin like an idiot among the sea of people on the train. More than once I received odd looks from strangers as I struggled to suppress laughter.
When I finally arrived home at a little after 5pm, my youngest daughter answered the door, and shouted “Dad!” at the top of her voice. Moments later my middle daughter passed me in the hallway as I kicked my shoes off, and informed me that she was only staying for dinner, and that she was heading out to a sleepover across the road. Oh, and we were having fish and chips for dinner, and she was playing Rugby on Sunday. She’s good at downloading all of her information on people.
Miss 16 arrived in the kitchen while I caught up with my other half – sporting new reading glasses, which have apparently been kept under-wraps for the last week. Thick rimmed hipster glasses. They do look good on her though.
Guess who got to wash up after dinner. Just guess.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a rather large glass of wine to drink, and a few episodes of House of Cards to binge watch with my other half. I imagine I’ll empty my head further over the weekend.