I’ve just returned from an all too brief trip to my family in the north. As ever upon arriving, everyone asks me how my journey was or if I had a good journey. I realise this is a rhetorical question. I’m there, nobody really wants to know the station by station account of how I got there. But this time, I didn’t just nod and say fine. This time I told people about my journey and I’m fairly sure no one will ask again.
I made it to the train with only about a minute to spare, took my seat and started reading my book. After about 20 minutes we arrived at Stevenage, where the train stood for about 15 minutes. Then came the announcement. ‘This is an emergency. Please could all passengers get off the train as quickly as possible and head towards the north end of the platform’.
Everyone assumed it was a bomb scare (‘you would in the present climate, won’t you’ said everyone I told). People made for the exits. The woman next to me looked close to tears. I eventually got off (there was no chivalry about letting women and children off first). But then I overheard some staff saying it was a small fire in buffet carriage. A team of firemen arrived (what is the collective noun for firemen? A brigade?) and put out the fire while we all stood on the freezing platform.
Another announcement to tell us what was happening as many people still thought it may have been a terrorist threat and the news that they needed to call an engineer before anyone could get back on the train. Then another announcement to say that they had arranged for the train just leaving London to make an additional stop to pick us all up. So a full trains worth of people had to cram onto an already busy train. It was chaos and due to the time spent on the platform I never warmed back up.
So that was how my journey was.