Thursday, 17 November 2016

Those Trains Again

Yesterday was a special event, an extremely belated birthday present for Daughter. She chose the Harold Pinter play ‘No Man’s Land’ starring the amazing Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart. Her birthday was back in March but this play was worth waiting for. What's more, we had front row seats in the Royal Circle of the Wyndham Theatre - a real treat. There’s something magical about those small, highly decorated Edwardian London theatres and Pinter certainly gave us lots to think about afterwards. We continued to discuss the play throughout supper and during our return journey to St Pancras Station, but I’ll talk about our analysis of the play another day, with a ‘spoiler alert’ in case you’re about to go and see it. Today I have a need to discuss the journey. 

I don’t often travel by train although I have recently decided that I can no longer do long-distance driving and so am, unfortunately, going to have to increasingly rely on train travel. I say ‘unfortunately’ because, although I rarely use the train, in the last few years I’ve experienced long delays on three occasions due to someone committing suicide on the line. This happened last night. It created chaos at St Pancras. All trains were stopped and although they kept explaining the reason over the tannoy, it was cold, wet and late. I realise that somewhere, out there in the dark, a family’s life had just been devastated but I wanted to sit down, to get home. I was only thinking of myself.

The last time I experienced this kind of train delay I was travelling to visit Sister down South. I blogged about it in May of last year but the point needs to be reiterated. On that occasion I got talking to a member of staff who was escorting us on a detour back to London and she said that it happens at least two or three times a week. Two or three times a week. That is one of the saddest indictments of a civilised society that I can think of. Our way of life is sorely lacking if so many people want to kill themselves. Was it always this way? Or were people happier living in an extended family situation, with fewer material goods on offer, with less complicated job structures and less demanding work requirements? In which direction have we, as a society, let people down?

Once more, I shall clamber down off my orange box and get on with my day, but the experience has left a cold, 'no man's land' of a feeling inside me. Tomorrow I'll blog about Pinter and the play.


  1. wow - that does give one pause. Thanks for climbing on your box - quite disturbing indeed.

    (I do look forward to hearing about the play - such great actors - most impressive, I bet)

  2. Hi Ros - I got caught once like that here on the 'local' bit of the line from Lewes to Eastbourne ... through the tiny stations - lots of bridges ... and thus jumps. It is exactly as you say - difficult to not think of one's own trip home ... at least we have warmth and love awaiting us ...

    .. a family's life split asunder ... so desperately sad. I suspect it has gone on over the years ... people get desperate and have no hope ... it's the people left behind who have the worst of it ..

    Glad you got to see Pinter though ... and this dreadful upset happened on the way home, rather than on the way down ...

    With thoughts for that family ... Hilary

  3. I found this blog very moving. Firstly, I have family that live at quite a distance and wish could see more often. The extended family all living nearby sadly is mostly a thing of the past. Secondly, I do feel that we would all be a lot happier without all the material things available and often wonder whether to cut back on such things. Thirdly, in the last 2 years I have lost two acquaintances through train suicides.

  4. I, too, have had train journeys disrupted by someone dying on the line - and yes, it's a huge jolt. Why do they do it? I think we need to look at the society we have created, and the political disregard for anyone who is different, or struggling. Just before I read this I heard on the News of a woman evicted in London by a landlord wanted to repossess the property - she had no debts, no arrears, but no hope of finding the deposit on another flat. So no home ... no job ... and it's a story repeated over and over. Which might go some way to explaining why some people are so angry they throw themselves under a train.

  5. Oh Ros, it happens an awful lot herer too. A friend of mine works on the railways as a conductor and she sais last week there were three in ine day. Awful. I don't know the answer to what you ask, but I'm certain it is worse at this time of year. Depression is often exacerbates by the gloomy weather and short days and the prospect of Christmas too. So very sad, and very tough on the train drivers too.


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