The Beauty of Random

Seven Hours.

Seven fucking hours.

That is the total amount of time I have spent travelling to and from Manchester this weekend. Let me just point out that, according to schedules, that seven (count ’em, 7) hours should be 2 and a half. I just got nearly three times my money’s worth. Bargain? Hmmm.

Anyway, that’s by-the-by because, despite delays, I actually thoroughly enjoyed them.

The first delay was on the way down to Manchester, when the train came to a stop jsut after Chorley because the previous train had disrupted the ‘points’ or some such technical train-like term. So we stopped, for the best part of an hour, in what I like to consider a No Man’s Land of the train world.
Yet, it was remarkably refreshing. Sat at the end of the carriage as I was, we were a cluster of maybe 6 or 7 people. And after a short while being stopped everyone started to open up. There was no frustration, no excessive tutting and shaking of heads, just light-hearted amusement. Simple jokes, shrugging the situation off, and genuinely just making the most of an unfortunate situation. People opened up, started talking about where they were heading, a few of us had drink on us that we were toying with cracking open if we were delayed much longer, and the like. It was how I imagine the war-time atmosphere was (granted, the bombs weren’t falling). It restored my faith in the public.

Anyway, before we knew it (and before we resorted to drink) we were movijng again and arrived at Bolton, where it terminated because of the delays. Lots of concerned people ushering their children everywhere and tutting wildly. I laughed a little. To myself. And then jumped on a train to Victoria instead, as it looked like it’d be quicker. Soon enough, I’d arrived.

The return was funnier still.

I did the quick walk to Picadilly in my remotely hungover state, got a good ol’ Pasty to help me on my way, then got on the 12:25 train destined for Blackpool via Preston, where I was hoping to change to Lancaster.
It started with a decidedly dodgy edge when the train we got on was originally Stockport-bound, but got terminated for us to jump on. It got as far as Oxford Road before stopping, the crew jumping off, and no replacement crew being available. I could do little else but chuckle as I continued to read.

Then the engines stopped. Sighs all round, but, once more, smiley faces making the best of it. Public confidence restored, once more. After a little while, general pleasantries were swapped and I got talking to the lady sat opposite me who, as it happened, was also trying to get to Lancaster. Others left, jokes were told, and amusement was had by all as we finally started moving again and finally got into Preston and rushed to get much needed refreshment. During this process, we managed to miss the connection to Lancaster, so opted for beer whilst awaiting the next train. The bar tender did an excellent job and also joined in the banter spawned from random events. Most amusing, and more or less settled my ailing body.

Finally got the train, and got into Lancaster at 16:00, a mere 3 hours late. Super stuff.

But the important thing that came out of all this? The banter, the chat, the getting along with strangers and genuinely just meeting nice, nice people. Lovely stuff.

Sophie – thanks for the chatter – it was much appreciated and lightened my day after feeling pretty terrible from drink after effects. Genuinely very nice to have met and thanks for a fun couple of hours chatting shite. I hope you enjoyed the brief spell in sunny Lancaster and enjoy your course / being back in Manchester.

To the others I didn’t catch the names of – thanks for just being nice and restoring my faith. Dramatic? Probably. But it was lovely.

The strange part is that I almost certainly will never see any of those people again but… it doesn’t matter. I feel better because we had the banter and were nice to strangers. It would be nice to make and keep friends with everyone you meet, but it doesn’t have to happen that way. Lovely jubbly.

As to why I was in Manchester, I was there for Craig’s birthday. And I failed terribly at drinking.

To the people who met me at Craig’s, and to Craig and Lehna – I apologise. I have no excuse for seemingly being as drunk as I was as quick as I was, and I certainly have no excuse for locking myself away and sleeping on the bathroom floor. I’m still at a loss as to what actually caused my downfall. I’m sure I could sit here all night and come up with excuses, but that is all they’d be and it wouldn’t actually fixed anything. Sorry anyway for playing the drunken fool, it was lovely to meet you all.

And, Craig, happy birthday, you old bastard. 😉