Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Final Chapter - I did get there in the end.

I stood there on the platform at Stratford, my cardboard box looking a little worse for wear as a result of the pushing and shoving and picking up and putting down. I was cross with myself for not having closed it with sellotape. Well the train pulled up at the platform and I loaded the two items onto the train for the last time. I was being phoned by the taxi-cab company that had been commissioned to collect me. I explained that I was on my way to Ilford station and when I arrived I disembarked one last time. I called the taxi-company back but they could not come in unless they had bought a ticket. Eventually I managed to get all my katundu (things) along the platform and up the stairs and Muhammed the taxi driver came and helped me with the last few meters. After picking up the key and the the paperwork for new residence he took me to Romford and to my new accommodation. What a relief to be able to go and sit down. After I regained my strength - I unpacked the box and the suitcase and threw away the box!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

John's journey to Romford - chapter Two

On the 14:30 to Liverpool Street - London - due to disembark at Chelmsford. The train went through Diss, Ipswitch, and on to Chelmsford - I hear an announcement over the PA - "Ladies and Gentlemen, we are about to stop in Chelmsford" - if you are getting off here please ensure you have all your personal belongings. Next stop - Chelmsford. I move towards the section where my cardboard box and suitcase are stowed. By the time the announcement was finished the train was stopped at the Chelmsford station - I manoeuvre the box towards the door, and was about to open it when the train started moving off again. Oh no!

I spoke to the conductor when he came through and told him what happened - he must of thought I was a real idiot. Anyway he said the next stop was Stratford. So I pushed the box back into its place and put the suitcase back too. I got a phone call from my manager asking when I would be arriving in Romford - I explained what happened and that I would be needing to get back to Romford from Stratford. After a few minutes he phoned me back and told me to catch the train to Ilford - and not Romford and he would have a taxi waiting for me there.

This time I watched intently and waited with my box and suitcase by the door so that i could get out as soon as the train stopped. It did and I managed to disembark with all my encumbrances. I had a laptop case - that was safely slung over my shoulder, a pull along suitcase and a cardboard box that was becoming difficult to keep closed. I was wearing my 'double jacket' and a 'money belt' strapped around my middle.

So there I stood on Stratford Platform number 9 - and i had to get to another platform - not entirely sure which one. I carried my case a few meters - say 5, and then went to get my box which I carried pass the suitcase and put it down and so I progressed along the platform, down the stairs into a subway and along. I kept on hearing the announcement "Ladies and Gentleman, please ensure that you keep all personal belongings with you at all times." - Any luggage found unattended may be destroyed." - and so I had this huge dilemma - How to move these things along without 'leaving them' and making sure that none of them are unaccompanied. Eventually I managed to get to platform 8 - with the help of a young rail official who kindly carried my suitcase - leaving me to worry about the box that was feeling the effects of the journey as it was coming unstuck. I eventually got up onto platform 8 and needed to buy a ticket - I found out about the ticket machine and purchased a ticket to Ilford and ran back to my belongings - whew they were still there. Pushing the box up to the yellow line, I stood at the ready.

Here comes chapter three. Told you this would be a cliffhanger! Come back tomorrow for the final exciting instalment.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

John’s journey to Romford

On Tuesday, I had just finished my day at a Primary, and my Area manager came and met me and told me that they wanted me to transfer to Romford sooner rather than later and so, I had to hastily organise a train trip to Romford, Essex. However, Romford is by no means a sleepy little village it is for all intents and purposes part of Greater London.

So, I went to Staples a big stationery chain store ad bought a cardboard box into which I would pack my non-clothing possessions. I also booked a train ticket using the Internet. I was pleased that I managed to get a ticket to Romford for just £15.

On Thursday, the day of the trip, I ordered a taxi to pick me up at 12:30 pm. I loaded into the taxi, a cardboard box, a suitcase and my laptop bag that contained important documents etc.

I arrived at Great Yarmouth Station in good time for the 13:17 to Norwich.

At this juncture, I need to explain how my journey was supposed to have worked! As you can guess – it didn’t pan out as expected.

Depart Great Yarmouth 13:17 arrive Norwich 13:50
Depart Norwich 14:00 arrive Shenfield 15:29
Depart Shenfield 15:34 arrive Romford 15:48

So I loaded my big box and my suitcase on the train at Great Yarmouth and we proceeded to Norwich and arrived at the scheduled 13:50 I get off the train and unload said box and suitcase fully expecting to grab a handy trolley and proceed to next train – how na├»ve I was. I couldn’t find a trolley and I am no superman to carry to pieces of luggage simultaneously. So I asked a uniformed man on the platform where the trolleys were – he pointed in a direction and said they were their – I went there and had to be redirected. I eventually found the trolleys and dashed to get one. Problem: I needed a pound to release it. Fortunately I found a coin and after working out how the contraption worked released the trolley and ran (dangerously) to get my bags that, contrary to all the public announcements I had left unattended on platform 1 – fortunately they had not grown legs and nobody had blown them up.

I loaded them on my trolley and dashed at high speed back to platform three to see the train I was supposed to have been aboard pulling out of the station! How fed up I was.

I went to the ticket office half expecting to have to pay a full fare for another ticket to Romford (the internet fare is a lot cheaper). But fortunately after I explained my difficulty with the luggage and the lack of a trolley, they kindly let me catch a later train at no further cost. The train I caught was the 14:30 to London-Liverpool Street. Unfortunately, this train was not scheduled to stop in Shenfield. When aboard the 14:30 – I asked the conductor where I should disembark in order to get to Romford. He said Chelmsford.
I will call this the end of chapter one! But do not go away - stay tuned for the next exciting episode John's journey to Romford!