Tag Archives: trains

Commuter tales


Years and years ago I used to commute from Wokingham to London, first to Shad Thames and then to near Bishopsgate. We used to get on the train at Wokingham (smoking carriage as was back in the day) armed with The Wokingham Times, the Today paper and a book. It was like a travelling library as we all shared books and would ask for recommendations. After the initial morning greetings and bums on seats we’d settle into a routine of working, reading, applying make up, lighting up, chatting and mentally preparing for the jostle at the other end. 

Workplaces were varied and some would head off on the tube, drain, bus, walk or (if I was lucky and timed my arrival to coincide with the boss) taxi. Well there had to be some perks to leaving home at 715am!  Due to the fact we were smokers (and therefore social pariahs) we would sit in 1 of the 2 smoking carriages on the train and over the years built up quite a rapport, so much so we’d pick up books and belongings if anyone left them behind and would wake fellow commuters up if they fell asleep and were nearing their station. 

We knew everyone. Lots of commuters had nicknames. There was Fluffy who was wildly good looking and had curly hair, Captain who was in shipping, looked like Captain Birds Eye and smoked a pipe, Jean who we called Jean Shrimptom for no other reason than we could, Fenchurch Annie who worked in Fenchurch Street, well you get the picture!

Birthdays were always good fun as we would have fizzy intoxicating liqueur on the way to work and then on the way home. If the trains were delayed we’d head to Bonapartes and drink ourselves stupid until the trains behaved. They were sociable days!

Catching the last train home was when we ran for our lives, no one wanted to be stranded at Waterloo!  As young twenty something girls we felt safe and looked out for. If some drunken driveller invaded our space there was always someone who would move to our rescu and be a buffer to unwanted beer breath. 

Some of the friends from the train are still friends years later, one is Mook’s Fairy Godmother, one had a wedding we all went to – actually her wedding was like a birthday journey minus the ticket collector. 

Travelling to London for Gavin Collinson’s book launch on Thursday reminded me of my commuting days and whilst it was lovely to be back in the throb and thrall of a commuter carriage I don’t miss those days, but I’m glad I met the friends I did on the 724. 




Well when I say raging I don’t mean a full on green skin, clothes ripping kind of anger it’s more of a mildly irritated but rage sounds much more dramatic!!  The good thing is that as soon as I have voiced my irritations I calm down, maybe because I feel I am passing the rage baton onto someone else and I can go off and make coffee thereby reducing my rage factor.

This morning I felt a bit raged after a friend said she had left her 16 year old son in a man’s ward because he’s now an adult.  He might be classed as an adult in a hospital ward but he’s still a child in his mum’s eyes and he can’t do a number of adult things like vote, drive a car, buy alcohol, buy cigarettes.  You can buy a pet though (that’s a statement not a full on yeah go and buy any number of pets before my 16 year old decides that I am infact giving her carte blanche to fill the house with pets I don’t want).  This reminded me of my annoyance at children being measured as they go into restaurants.  Now my children have been tall for their age for ages thanks to Big Welsh being 6′ 4″ and to be told at 11 that you are too tall to be a child and must therefore pay adult prices for a Chinese buffet is irritating.  I did take this up with Trading Standards and they said that restaurants can and do this, it’s at their discretion and basically it’s no different to a licensed premises refusing to serve someone who hasn’t got ID.  My point is she didn’t need ID and there’s nowhere that says “you don’t have to prove how old you are because we will measure you and if you are tall then we will assume you are over 14”.

This morning one of my charming children was making sure she had completed started her homework which involved sentences using verbs, adverbs, connectives, nouns and pronouns.  We use them all the time but up against the clock and her stressing that she hadn’t finished started it was bringing a new strand of rage.  That was before we even started on the 8x table!  Then one of them said that she hadn’t bought her train ticket and needed to leave earlier in order to do so.  That wasn’t a real rage but she can’t buy a season ticket as it’s not cost effective and despite being 16 and a student there are no reduced rates for train tickets, but she’s not an adult!  That wasn’t too bad to have 2 out of 3 creating rage like material.

As it’s raining everyone gets thrown into a panic.  Our house is on a straight bit of road between 2 bends so cars hurtle around the corners and don’t think for one minute that there may be cars parked on the road and you can sense their rage when they have to stop to allow a car to carry on its way.  At the end of the road the hedging is overgrown and so you can’t see to get out until you are practically in the path of the traffic.  Note to self – phone council.  The journey wasn’t too bad until reaching the station where the main entrance is closed and the level crossing does its thing.  Why do motorists think it’s ok to clog up the traffic whilst dropping someone off in dense traffic?  As for those idiots who gamble with the level crossing.  Phew child delivered to station and with enough time to get a ticket.  Oh hold on!  The new traffic lights despite being bright and shiny with 3 distinct colours indicating what motorists should do and shouldn’t do don’t seem to work as some drivers would rather nudge forward an inch rather than wait their turn.  So whilst queuing I beeped my horn at some driver who was on their phone and she glared at me as if I was in the wrong.  Phew child number 2 dropped off.

Then it was off to join the rest of the traffic and despite the signs and masses of social media some people failed to see the road was closed and they got into a panic.  If you’re familiar with Wokingham traffic you will know that London Road into the one way system is a panic area, some  cars need to switch lanes to carry on down Peach Street and do so just by simply stopping by the Ship, whilst others nudge forward and then get into a state when they can’t get into Cross Street.

The it’s down past the fire station and people sit on the zig zags, that really irritates me. Oh yes and the cyclist who was cycling on the road and then decided to go on the pavement at the pedestrian crossing or the cyclist who was on the pavement and then hurtled through the children on the crossing.

But it’s not all bad, because all children are safely at school and I do some of the journey in reverse and I can look forward to a cup of coffee when I get home.  Only to find out that the milk has run out.  All the other rages of the day then pale into insignificance after that!

Of course the rage list is not exhaustive but it’s incredibly tiring and I’ll add some more in for good measure like the telly on in empty room, apple core in mug, dirty dishes put on the clean side, dishwasher not being emptied or refilled, towels on the floor, cold callers (don’t start me on that!), dog nosing around in bin bag, loud music in one room for everyone to enjoy, no lids on shampoo and many many more!

I can tell you’re thinking wow she’s a grumpy old mare but in all honesty the above is just irritation and anyway I’ve got milk now and am enjoying a coffee!

What’s on your rage list?