Friday, 17 June 2011

Station trap

It 's so unfair.

I had travelled down to Torquay for a presentation. You don’t know Torquay? Seaside town in the glorious county of Devon. I thought I knew it but discovered I didn’t, although I’d been there several times. It was only last night that I first saw the little fishing harbour with the old town clustered on the slopes around it. Quite charming.

The meeting went well too, but I’m not here to talk about work. The important thing is that the meeting was brought forward a couple of hours which meant I could get an earlier train home. Since my ticket wasn’t the type that could be used on other trains, I had to buy a second one.

The train left from the market town of Newton Abbot. It holds a particular place in my affection. It was there that I heard a Devon accent for the first time, an accent which no description can really make you appreciate if you haven’t heard it, and nothing can ever drive from your memory if you have. So I’m fond of the place. It was horribly disappointing to discover just how tricksy and devious it can be, at least if the station is anything to go by.

Newton Abbot station: a charming exterior but a base personality
I turned up in plenty of time for my train and headed for platform one to wait. Only to realise with horror that the platform I was on, nearest the ticket office, the platform with the café, wasn’t platform one at all but platform three. So my train came in and I had the pleasure – using the word in a loose kind of way – of watching it collect lots of passengers, of which I wasn’t one, and then pull gently out of the station again.

So back I went to the ticket office to buy a third ticket. This time I was determined not to fall into the trap. I went and sat on platform one and patiently waited the hour and more for the next train to arrive.

Only to realise that it was coming in on platform three.

Desperation lent me wings. I’d been caught by Newton Abbot syndrome once, I wasn’t going to be denied departure by the malignant demon that inhabits the place again.

Panting and sweating, a bag on each shoulder, I got to the train as the final door closed. With the last of my strength, I dragged one open and flung myself onboard. The door shut again, but behind me. The train pulled out of the station, but with me on it. I’d made it. I had escaped the accursed place. With three tickets to bear testimony to my determination to do so.

It hasn’t done any good to my previously favourable disposition towards Newton Abbot.

Of course, I can imagine that some people might be inclined to put the difficulties I'd experienced down to incompetence on my part. But surely that’s not an idea we can entertain? It must be more plausible to believe that a malign spirit sent to torment me inhabits the town, or at least its station.

Mustn’t it?


Robert Patterson said...

"It must be more plausible to believe that a malign spirit sent to torment me inhabits the town, or at least its station."

Occam has an opinion on this, I think: Train platforms should not be multiplied unnecessarily.

David Beeson said...

Wouldn't Occam have been a problem if I'd decided to have a shave? I didn't - it might have made me miss the next train.