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8:18am on Thursday, 4th December, 2008:

Luxury Travel


I landed at Gatwick at 6:15am this morning (a tail wind meant we got in an hour or so before we were supposed to), and took the Gatwick Express to London Victoria. At £24.50, I thought it was a bit expensive, but then the Heathrow Express is also expensive, and I was travelling at commuter-friendly times (my ticket from London Liverpool Street to Colchester has set me back £21.60 because of this, for example).

Anyway, when the ticket inspector came, it turned out I'd inadvertantly bought a first-class ticket. The inspector pointed this out, and insisted I went to first class. I told him I was fine where I was, but he was having none of it: I had a first class ticket, therefore I must sit in first-class carriage. So I had to walk through three carriages packed with luggage, carrying my own bag, with the train swaying. Then, with the first-class carriage in sight, I hit a problem: a drinks trolley. It was making grindingly slow progress, what with everyone who'd just got off a flight wanting "a proper cup of tea again at last", so I just had to stand there and wait. I did so for 7 minutes (I timed it). I could have been sitting comfortably in second class, but no, here I was, standing while half a carriage of passengers made smalltalk with the young woman serving them beverages at stunningly rip-off prices.

When I eventually made it to the first class section, I found the seats were wider but much more worn than where I had been. Then, the ticket inspector who had told me I had to go to first class showed up and pointed out I was entitled to free copy of The Times. I mustered sufficient strength of will not to roll it up and beat him with it.

This is what happens when I buy my train tickets from a machine...

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).