Last night, following a lovely date at Cafe Rouge, I left the flat at 8:45, in the hope of getting aboard the 9:25 train home. I was so jolly and happy. South West Trains saw fit to change all of that!
I’d travelled into town earlier than usual in order to visit the Light Show exhibition at the Heywood Gallery on Southbank. This exhibition was recommended to me by a fellow Blipper and I’ve been looking forward to it ever since she reported on it.
The exhibition is a collection of art installations which use light to create art works. This can sometimes consist of just a light source, fog and flat surfaces but can also be huge pieces of many parts that all go towards the whole.
The works are what I call ‘clever’ art. This means it incorporates some sort of technological element in it. It’s not a judgement call, it’s just what I call it.
All the pieces in Light Show are only possible because of technology and most are very, very clever!
I’m not going to bore you with descriptions of all the pieces but I thought I’d describe my favourite piece. It is called Exploded View and was created in 2011 by the artist Jim Campbell.
At first glance, it appears to be a big, rectangular chandelier, made up of many tiny hanging wires with tiny balls of light attached to the wires. The wires are suspended from a big block which, in turn, is suspended from the ceiling so the whole piece is at eye height.
The little lights seem to come on and go off at random intervals. They don’t just switch on and off but, rather, fade in and out. It all looks interesting but it isn’t until you stand in the right spot and at the right distance that you see the genius in it.
As I stood and stared, it appeared that shadows of commuters were walking across the piece. It looked so real that I looked behind me, thinking it was just a reflection of the people behind me. It wasn’t. The seemingly random changes in light and dark, are precisely timed and placed in order to create the allusion. Truly extraordinary…almost haunting.
While this was my favourite, I think I can safely say that I enjoyed everything (apart from one which I thought was just stupid) in the exhibition. Naturally, photography was banned though, to be fair, in the case of artworks using light, any photographs would be a bit rubbish.
After the exhibition, I set off for the flat, walking down to the wharf to meet Mirinda before dinner. And everything was lovely, up to this point but then the worst part of the day started unrolling like a giant cow pat falling off a cliff.
At about 7pm, a severe (their word on the big screens was actually ‘server’ but it was pretty severe so I assume this was a typo) signal failure between Wimbledon and Clapham Junction stopped all trains in and out of Waterloo. When I turned up at 9:10, Waterloo looked like a full house at a Rolling Stones concert…without the music.
And so we stood while single trains left for various destinations with long waits in between, as they headed off into the night without any signals. Each train was packed.
I stood and stood and listened to various people asking for fellow passengers to join them in cabs at anything from £25 to £60 each. I didn’t fancy that and decided that if nothing had happened by 11pm, I’d go back to the flat for the night. I didn’t want to leave the poodles but there was no point in spending the night on Waterloo station.
Then I noticed two things on the big display board which hadn’t been announced. SWT were organising replacement buses from Woking to Alton (and various other destinations). Now, all I needed was a train to Woking.
And then it happened. The announcer (the poor guy hadn’t stopped talking all the time I was there) started telling us the same thing about the signal problem still not being resolved, but interrupted himself with the news that a train was leaving for Woking at 11:15.
I tried to guess which platform it would be, conscious of the fact that I was surrounded by hundreds of commuters doing the same thing. And then the platform came up and I was off, dodging between slower people, trying to avoid being trampled by the faster ones.
I ignored the first few carriages (at least there were 12) and managed to dive into a seat. Hundreds of others were not as lucky. It has to be the most crowded I’ve seen a non-Underground train for ages.
We left at about 11:30, leaving behind a few poor souls on the platform who just couldn’t fit in. We moved very slowly out of London, stopping at just about every station, finally arriving at Woking at about 12:30.
If I thought the crowd was big at Waterloo, it didn’t really compare with the mass of humanity standing around lost and confused on Woking station. Out the front, two bus replacement services were gradually filling up. Actually the one for Basingstoke was filling up. The one to Guildford had only a sleeping driver on it with firmly shut doors. He was rudely awoken by some guy who insisted he let people sit down in comfort rather than standing in the drizzly rain.
Finally, the last train to leave Woking was a special service to Alton, due to arrive at 1:20 but actually turning up at 1:40. There was about 50 of us left at Woking and we all jumped on it.
I eventually walked into the house at 2:10, completely exhausted. I was welcomed by two starving poodles.
All in all, a pretty rotten journey home, though I would like to say how wonderful the station staff at Woking were. Especially the Irish Station Manager who did a fantastic job in the face of hundreds of irate travellers. She kept a calm and efficient demeanour throughout.