The Gap

Although two of us (returning to Oxford) were travelling on unchangeable advance tickets and only one (Bristol-bound) on a flexible ticket, we all set off about three hours earlier than planned in order to beat the disruption that GWR ominously emailed me about this morning (having emailed me three weeks ago to say, wrongly, that our train today from Margate to London was cancelled).

Our flexible person was booked to Paddington via London St Pancras and left 14 minutes before us cheapskates on the slower route via London Victoria but there was still an outside chance that we might all meet up again at Paddington.

Getting on to the 'wrong' train at Margate was a doddle - a bit of a conversation about the strike and the government and the SouthEastern guy on the station told me I was welcome to get on whatever train I wanted. I told the SouthEastern guard checking the ticket on the train that we were on the wrong train and he looked hard at the ticket and said it seemed fine to him. The exit ticket machine at Victoria was oblivious.

By this time it became clear that the Bristol-bounder would leave Paddington on his longer journey a few minutes before we arrived there to negotiate a change to our tickets. Ah well.

That negotiation - with GWR - was a little harder but the inaccurate email they'd sent me clinched it and I was soon in possession of a stamped chit allowing us to travel on a train three hours earlier than booked. At this stage it became a race to our respective front doors: 1.5 miles from the station in Bristol and 1.1 and 3 miles respectively from the station in Oxford. I predicted we'd all arrive home within 20 minutes of each other. In fact it was 12 minutes with the Bristolian reaching his door two minutes before I reached mine.

I should probably just take a book to entertain me on train journeys but this is a little bit of a family tradition - and thanks to Blip I am reminded that it was 12 minutes last time too.


There was a conversation on Blip recently about the pretentiousness of TS Eliot's The Waste Land. I have the great fortune of never having had it as a set book, and I've read very little of it though I've come across one or two bits I understand. Tivoli's second tourist recommendation for Margate, the station loos, provide some evidence that TS Eliot, who wrote some of it in Margate when he was unwell in 1921, was not himself 100% pretentious. See extra.

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