The Train Fiasco

One little bit of fun I experienced lately was one Friday evening, just trying to make my way home.

In my wisdom, I’ve been trying out new ways of Going Home and Coming Back. My new strategy was to travel late at night, often on the last train, partly because it’s cheaper, and definitely because it’s quieter.

So that was the plan, one Friday evening.

I eventually arrived home at 3:30am, some nine hours after leaving.

It was quite possibly the worst experience I’ve ever had on public transport. Everything that could go wrong did. I left my house on time, and arrived into Basingstoke. Where I waited, and waited. Eventually, the connection arrived that got me to Reading.

And that was that. The train went as slow as possible up the country, getting stuck at various bits, and then they gave up and terminated it at Banbury. The reason was that someone had jumped in front of a train. All very tragic, and all completely beyond their control.

So there wasn’t much I could do but ride it out. Some coaches turned up, but a woeful number. Hundreds of us were milling around, in the deadness of anEnglish town that we all only know due to a nursery rhyme. More trains kept arriving and being terminated. The anger swelled.

Some time later, after telling us that no more coaches were coming, they got the line open again. So we all squeezed onto a Silverlink train and got to Birmingham Moor Street at 11:30pm. I should have been home by this point. Instead, I trudged across the city to Birmingham New Street, where I knew I would either be put in a hotel or a coach.

In the event, none of it happened. They somehow managed to get a merry band of 20 or so of us onto a specially laid on train which took us to Manchester. Arriving at about 1:45am, we were all pretty knackered, but still – I was in the wrong place.

Eventually, they organised taxis for us. Which wouldn’t take me all the way. So I had to pay out my own pocket for another taxi, and they “assured” me that I would be reimbursed if I claimed it.

I’m still waiting. That’s £20 I’m out of pocket. I sent all the forms off like a good Citizen should. But they’re ignoring it. Or it’s got “lost in the post”. Which would piss me off royally. I did take scans, because I had a feeling this would happen, but it’s such an inconvenience.

Needless to say, I was pretty annoyed, but I wasn’t as pissed off as I thought I would be. The whole time I had a “ho hum” mentality. It was no one’s fault. I couldn’t do anything about it by getting angry. I just had to lap it up. It’s the price I pay for not being able to drive.

But still, I was most pleased when I finally got home, and got to sleep.

Unfortunately, I didn’t account for the fact that I would be disturbed at 7am the next morning.

My family’s dog has lately decided that it doesn’t do weekends. It starts crying, pleading, for its Mamma to get up now bright and early at 7am, or before. That’s because it’s what it’s used to during the week. It never used to do this. Now it does. And my bedroom is right above it.

Hell. No one else could hear it. Either that or they’ve got used to it. So I had to suffer. Until I gave up. At 7:30am.

I was not impressed.

Getting Closer

This past week has made a big difference to life in the new home.

On Tuesday, after much distress, we finally got the phone line and broadband installed. That makes things so much easier. No more trips to the library, suffering terrible computers and watching the clock count down till it threw me off.

But yesterday, something just as good as that occured.

We got a shower installed. A proper shower, with real water pressure.

And it works so good. Even better than the one at my Northern home.

I’ve been desperate for the new shower to appear, largely because I’ve been having to have baths, which I hate because of the huge amount of time they take in comparison to a shower.

But something the other day made it worse. I was leaning forward to wash my hair – as you do when you don’t have any form of object to get the water from the bath up to your head – threw the water around, then opened my eyes to a rather unusual amount of red in the water.

I was, quite literally, having a bloodbath.

My nose is quite feeble even at the best of times. There’s obviously a dodgy artery up there. But leaning forward clearly provoked it and the consequences were not pretty.

At least there won’t be any more of that.

And even better, now that I’ve got a real shower, I’ve been able to cut my hair. Yes, I’m still cutting my own hair. It’s the only way to save money. Those clippers I bought five years ago have proved to be a wise investmenet. Plus, I always feel like I give myself a better haircut than the barber ever did. That’s quite something when you consider that cutting my own hair involves razors, the bathroom mirror and another handheld one.

In sum though, all of this has made me feel a lot better. My new life is still very much moving slowly into existence, with no progress on the business yet, but I have a feeling it won’t be long now. I’ve got a lot of ideas ready to deploy once my new printer arrives – which should be today.

Only one problem… I’m going back home again tomorrow. The nightmare five hour train journey awaits, with four changes. So the business is going to have to be delayed again. I was originally getting a lift home with my housemate tonight, but he’s now decided he doesn’t need to travel North. Fortunately, there were still cheap tickets available, so it’s not hurt me too much.

Anyway, life goes on. And at least I now have things to do to while away these tedious work-free days…

Watford Gap

On Thursday I had my interview in Harrow. It was the first interview I’ve managed to land in all the applications I’ve sent out. It was nice to at least be considered.

I’m using the past tense here because I sense that the opportunity has closed itself to me. I thought I did well in the interview – I’d prepared answers to almost all the questions they asked. Except one – how will I deal with the relocation if offered the job?

I had done some basic research. I knew how much it was going to be to live in the area. Plus, there is the fact that the transport links are excellent in almost every direction in London. I would be fine, I said. I could live in a cheaper area and just travel more. Bad answer: cos, of course, travel costs would then increase to compensate.

But, in truth, the salary is probably not enough to live in London from the job. £19k a year is only £14.5k net. Rent at £800/month is nearly 2/3rds of my income gone. This was what got me. I felt a bit stupid. I blustered with excuses that I could carry on with freelance work that I get from time-to-time from a friend, and also that I could referee to earn a little extra, but I think the damage had already been done. I looked like I hadn’t done my research properly, and that’s fatal.

The daft thing is that the salary for the job is actually better than what I would get if I chose to pursue the London MP assistant career. Which is such a bad choice anyway because the progression route is so badly defined. The miserable pay is a result of the huge demand: everyone wants to work there so they reduce the wage. Only the most desperate apply. Am I that desperate?

Anyway, they said I would hear either Friday or Monday. Friday went without a call, but at least I have the weekend off from worrying about it now. In any case, there’s nothing I can do. I guess I have to keep looking. There can’t be many people who get their job at their first interview, anyway. I knew I wouldn’t be that lucky. I never am.

The day itself was actually a lot of fun. Travelling by train is always something I enjoy (as long as I get a seat!), especially now I’ve got an MP3 player. The time just flies by. The weather was excellent, and I even got a chance to sit in the park for a little while before hand to prepare myself for the interview. It’s a very nice area. I really would have liked the job – it would have suited me perfectly, I think.

If I don’t get it, I’m going to have to reassess my position. Maybe my experience is just not good enough to apply for these kinds of jobs. I feel like I’m trapped in the old circular logic: to get experience you need experience. No one advertises their post saying “Inexperienced PA required immediately!”.

In any case, if I don’t get it I don’t think I’ll be doing any more applying for jobs a long way away unless they offer to reimburse my expense. It cost me £70 in total, train fares, taxi fares. And I did a lot of walking. It was a nice little adventure, a nice break from sitting here all day, but I could do that anywhere and it wouldn’t cost me so much money.

The waiting game is on hold until Monday. I’m sure I’ll be put out of my misery then.

UPDATE: A few minutes after writing this post a rejection letter turned up. Oh well – at least I didn’t have to wait all weekend after all!