Since I’ve been self-employed (over 8 years now, hoorah!), I rarely have to commute into London during rush hour. Yesterday, I had to be in White City at 9am to run a training session from 10am.
I planned the journey allowing plenty of time, and got to my local station nice and early.
There was a packed train waiting with its doors open, but going nowhere. A sign read: ‘Delays due to a broken-down train at Sydenham Hill’. People were milling about on the platform, uncertain what to do.
Ooer, was my trip going to be scuppered at the outset? Should I get a taxi or go home for the car?
Another train came in on the next platform, so we all squeezed onto that. At every station, more people crammed themselves in. The driver made encouraging announcements about moving down the coaches, apologies for the heat and discomfort, and tried to get everyone to work as quickly as possible.
Phew, we arrived at Victoria and I headed for the tube.
Just as I got to the top of the steps, lights started flashing ‘DO NOT ENTER’, sirens started blasting, and a staff member started heaving the barriers shut.
Oh no! Should I make a run for it and maybe get trapped underground in a terrorist emergency? Or should I wait patiently as instructed?
‘It’s temporarily closed due to over-crowding,’ he explained.
Being an obedient type, I waited. When we were finally allowed down the stairs, the notice read ‘Good Service’ on all lines except the one I wanted. That read ‘Delays’.
Despite the warning, a Circle Line tube did come along, I changed at Notting Hill Gate to the Central Line, just about managed to stay cool, calm and collected (despite it being one of the hottest days this year), and arrived at my destination on time.
It’s not unusual, but I share this experience because it’s such a bad ad for London.
Do you think they’ll get it fixed in time for 2012?