It snowed this morning in the South East. When I woke up and looked through the kitchen window all was clear. About 15 minutes later it started falling. Very quickly the garden was covered in white. It had stopped by the time I walked up to the shops.
In all, it snowed for about half an hour. There was no trace by the time I walked back home an hour later.
It felt like an odd but pleasant little occurrence that wouldn’t impact on anyone. It just shows you how wrong you can be.
My first hint that there could be a problem was on Farnham station with the announcement that due to ‘weather’ trains were running slow into Waterloo after Woking. And they weren’t wrong. The train I was on raced to Woking and then progressed very slowly, stopping and starting, all the way in.
The guard on the train seemed unaware of the reasons for the delay (the train took 30 minutes longer than it should have) simply telling us we were joining a rather long queue into Waterloo. As we slowly edged forwards, closer to the terminus, the evidence of this was palpable.
Train after train, motionless on the neighbouring tracks, passengers looking increasingly annoyed, resembled the M25 during Friday peak hour rather than a rail network.
It meant I was late getting to the flat. Not that it was a problem though I was wondering whether the problem would be sorted by the time I was on my way home. Silly me. I needn’t have wondered at all.
At the flat, Mirinda was involved in a rather tense conversation with her boss while I removed her dead microwave (it was fitted in the flat when it was built) and cleaned up her new extra cereal storage shelf that its removal created. We then popped over to the Lotus for our usual delicious Chinese dinner.
I left the flat at 9:45, hoping to catch the 10:30 train home. Arriving at Waterloo, I realised immediately that the problem had not been fixed. Crowds of disgruntled businessmen, boisterous drunks and impatient families stood, staring at the long line of departure screens. The all said the same thing: DELAYED.
I took my place beneath the clock and waited. Near me I listened as two be-suited chaps berated a South West Trains information guy for the seemingly random way in which the trains were arriving and departing. All credit to the official. He never lost his cool but quietly and reasonably explained the situation.
The main problem (according to these two chaps) was that they wanted to know how long they’d be waiting because if they knew that then they could just go back to the pub and wait there. The official couldn’t tell them. This upset them even more than the train situation.
And then, suddenly, an Alton train appeared at the head of the queue (it was the delayed 10pm) boarding straight away. I went for it and managed to get a seat (on a lovely 444 rather than the usual horrid 450). Actually, it was the very carriage that Dawn, Nicktor and the boys travelled on when the first 444 rolled on the tracks. I know this because the carriage is called “The fabulous 444” and they had a Beatles cover band playing on it.
Anyway, I settled back to read, wondering how many people would cram on behind me. When the guard announced that the train would run fast to Woking, I realised the crowds wouldn’t be coming. As it was, all the seats in my carriage were taken but no-one was standing (as usually happens).
And then we found out why. According to the guard, the snowfall and freezing conditions had combined to stop the electricity getting to a few trains early in the day. The trains couldn’t be moved and so all the incoming trains had to go around them or just wait. It took a long time before they could be moved (I have no idea what happened to the poor passengers who were on them) and then, of course, there was a lot of congestion to be cleared through the rest of the day.
As it turned out, I arrived home about ten minutes later than planned after a pleasant enough trip home. So I can’t really complain. Though it did make me wonder why we stopped using steam engines.