How Irritating…..

October 1, 2013 at 7:38 pm 1 comment


I really enjoy the Virgin Atlantic adverts with the sexy stewardesses in their tight-fitting uniforms and a knowing glint in their eyes. But, travelling by Virgin Trains does not quite match up as a travel/fantasy experience.

Now I admit to being a little grumpy this morning. I had an early start and left home in the dark to head to the temple of all things locomotive which is Crewe Station to catch a train down to London. My usual commute. Joy of joys. 😦

I was tired. I was grumpy. Consequently, everything about the journey seemed to irritate me, even more than usual.

I was irritated by my seat reservation which happened to be in coach G. Half way down the train. This is a problem as it means you are furthest away from the kitchen and are last to be served breakfast and refreshments. And, it puts you at a distinct disadvantage in the sprint for a place in the taxi queue upon arrival at Euston. More of this later……

At least the seat reservation system was working for a change. Normally it is down – not working – with regular rail rage incidents guaranteed as people with reservations vent their spleens at innocents who have unwittingly taken a reserved place.  At least this morning I would not be violently attacked for accidentally taking the seat reserved by a hormonal pregnant lady (is there any other kind?) or a twat in a suit……

I was irritated by the mug, saucer and teaspoon on the table next to me which rattled loudly throughout the journey. It was like suffering extreme tinnitus. The noise was only infrequently drowned out by the loud beeping noise which a Virgin Pendolino always seems to make when it is taking a bend at speed, and the occasional man talking very loudly and importantly on his mobile phone. Grrrrrr…..

I was irritated by the fact that the man who walks up and down the train collecting rubbish – or I should say, the man who holds his bin liner open for you to dispense your rubbish into – decided to do so within five minutes of my sitting down. Now I may not be the tidiest of people, but even I would struggle to generate any significant amount of refuse within five minutes of getting on a train.

I was irritated (again) by the consistent inconsistency (I know) of Mr Branson’s food. If it isn’t the random number of sausages that you might get on your roll, or the availability or otherwise of the granola, it is the variability in temperature of the porridge which winds me up. Today it was extra hot. I burnt my tongue. Grrrrr……

I was irritated that they only offered me one cup of tea during the whole journey. This is in First Class where the price of ticket should be enough to provide me with personal punkawallahs and a geisha to serve my tea.

And, I had to ask for white sugar. They frequently run out of white sugar. There is always lots of brown sugar. No-one has brown sugar. And, there are always a lot of packets of sweeteners. But, having watched the very last and excellent episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix last night there was no way I was going to succumb to the packets of sweetener……

I was irritated by the lack of leg room. The train was busy (will all politicians please note that the West Coast line is indeed FULL) and so I had a bloke sat opposite me. We both avoided playing footsie with each other by tucking our legs in. Consequently there was less stretch space (when seated) than on your average budget airline. I kept imagining that I could feel the onset of deep vein thrombosis…..

I was irritated by the fact that all the attractive Eastern European ladies that used to work at Virgin, with their Bond villain accents and pert bums, seem to have gone home, and have been replaced by Scousers of a certain age and dubious sexuality (apologies to my Liverpudlian readers, but this is the reality of the West Coast line….).

I was irritated that the staff felt it necessary to set-up the carriage for arrival at Euston twenty minutes out, making me move my iPad, phone, newspaper et al to allow them to deposit a clean paper mat and a fresh mug and saucer which rattled as much the old one.

I was irritated because the mobile phone and Wi-Fi connections kept dropping out, which meant that it took over an hour – out of an hour and a half journey – to download a single 6.5 mb PowerPoint presentation. Never mind High Speed 2, we could do with a minimal investment in some decent broadband to let the workers work while commuting between the North and South!

But, what is the point of HS2? By all accounts my future journey will be twenty minutes quicker. But, what is the advantage of getting to London just twenty minutes earlier if it is only to be deposited in the queue for taxis at Euston Station? Admittedly, I started at a disadvantage by being in coach G, but I then had to wait thirty five minutes for a taxi. For almost half of this time I risked life and limb, precariously balancing my trolley bag on the steep steps down to the rank below, trying not to topple onto anyone or be toppled onto. There were some big buggers in the queue behind me and if any one of those had stumbled we would have all gone down like a row of dominos.

Now I know I could have caught the tube. But, to be honest it is never easy when you have luggage and I have an ongoing nagging concern about bombs and terror attacks on the underground. I also have a morbid dislike of having my nose stuck in somebody else’s armpit. So, I prefer to get a taxi. I prefer to catch a taxi because I get to see the sights of the capital. I look out for blue plaques on walls and statues in squares. I check whether the Queen is at home and who is guarding her. I people watch 😉 . And, I enjoy my own company and the occasional bit of banter with a friendly cabby.

Which is why the taxi sharing scheme at Euston also irritated me. If I wanted to be crammed into a tight space with a bunch of strangers who were vaguely heading in the same direction as myself, then I would have caught a tube. All the taxi sharing scheme seems to do is to skim off the odd straggler at the back of the queue heading to the City or the West End and the odd geek who otherwise finds it hard to get so up close and personal with an attractive lady. These shared taxi’s get precedence over the others. So, the consequence of the scheme is that it causes those of us who wish to travel by ourselves to wait even longer than we would have to if the scheme was not in operation. The scheme does not make the queue go any faster. It just spreads germs and diseases quicker.

It was all very irritating.


Entry filed under: middleman. Tags: , , , , , , .

Tories: Back to the Workhouse Dudley

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. bookvolunteer  |  October 1, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Feeling better now?
    Next time try coaches E or U and schedule in a coffee at Friends’ House (just over the road from Euston Station) when you arrive.
    You’ll then be calm and relaxed and ready for the day ahead. And when you get to 60 and have one of those (old people’s) train passes you’ll realise that Wonderful Virgin Trains will allow you to travel to London and back on any train for £50. I don’t often catch the first train of the day and have never tried 1st class but I love Virgin trains!



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