Faithful Lums, remember me? No? A blight on you I tells you, I'm after the Brexit crowd anyway, you can tell them any old shite and they'll believe it. Read on, for tales of such in-consequence that even I feel I'm plumbing new depths.
The cossetting shoogle of the carriage, the rhythmic clickety-clacks of the rolling stock, 8 pints of Stella
or maybe the gypsy curse, all ingredients for a great sleep. But the drowsy awakening, the horror and panic brought on by the yawning realisation that your destination of choice is disappearing out the window at a gentle but accelerating pace. This depth of despair can only be matched if you happen to wake up as an unexpected towns name slowly fills your view and growing consciousness.
|Wake up you bastard, we cant both be asleep!|
I've fallen asleep on public transport. In an ideal world, it would be a bit like those sci-movies where the crew of the ship all retire to sleepy pods to enter blissful suspended hibernation for 18 years while they scoot through outer space, woken up by a friendly robot, with a cup of tea as they approach Mars orbit, its not though is it? Its me lurching for the last train home, sprawling across the nearest seat like a collapsing clothes horse, then travelling, unconscious, through time and space to a generally random place.
Harrow, Hainault, Perth, Tunbridge, Greenwich, Larbert, Orpington, that sounds like the stops on my triumphant and inevitable book tour, but its actually some of the places I've woken up after falling asleep somewhere else.
I was woken by a cleaner on the DLR one night, "Where am I" I inquired, Bank Station was the reply, a surprise for me, as I'd gotten on at Bank Station an hour and a half before, " I got on at Fucking Bank" I exclaimed, to no real audience, the cleaner had already swept himself away. Unless I'd discovered a time hole, I had trundled all the way to Lewisham, and all the way back, maybe more than once for all I know. One aside from this sad story, was it was the night someone stole my hat, off my head, while I slept. Imagine that! A more wretched hive of scum and villainy you will never find.
|That's right, you've all got your hats, rub it in. .|
This scenario also played out while returning from visiting pals in Tunbridge Wells. Catching the 2230 to Victoria, plenty time to jump on the last tube back to Stratford. A fine plan, well considered and easily achievable, not well executed however. 4 hours later, shaken awake at Tonbridge, 5 minutes up the road from Tunbridge Wells. I'd slept all the way to London, the hour and half to get the train emptied, cleaned and turned around, and all the way back. It was half 2 in the morning, about minus 6 degrees with another 4 hours to wait for the first train to London, what do you do?. I'll tell you what I thought I'd do, I'll just walk about for 4 hours, its not hard, one foot in front of the other for a half a shift. Thing is, Tonbridge is about a quarter of a mile long, so once I'd done that 4 times, I felt a bit of a fanny, as well as being convinced I was going to sit down somewhere and drift off into a hypothermic doze that I wouldn't wake up from. They used to show adverts about that when I was wee, some fella, lost in the snowy woods telling himself not to fall asleep.
|Don't worry, a Travelodge is up the road, £60 a night.|
I don't know if he did or not, but that bit stayed with me. As did the ad about climbing inside old fridges in rubbish dumps and walking on icy ponds, The 70s were full of hazards, odd how they never mentioned the pervy DJs and the Molesters of Parliament though. So, that made my mind up, with my remaining 3% phone battery I located a Premier Inn and parted with £60 for 3 hours shelter and a worry that I'd miss the first train home.
£60 incidentally seems to be the rate applied to me for either a late night room booking, or a taxi home. This suggests two things to me, either hotels and taxis are part of some great price fixing cartel, or my Truman Show producers are lazy bastards and need to get some creativity.
This result was repeated some months later on the last train from Glasgow Queen St to home camp at Lenzie Station. That journey takes approximately 12 minutes, with a stop in between, so really, you would think there would be enough going on to keep me occupied for 12 minutes. No, half past two I yawn and stretch and blink open my eyes, in Perth, the end of the line. That's an impressive 55 miles, my most wayward snooze yet. There are not many options at this point, fair city as it is, so it was emergency accommodation again, I had to knock on a few doors but finally found an Inn with some room, I remember thinking if they offer me the stable out the back I'm ordering new business cards on Monday.
The Orpington episode is worth a mention. This was the evening I had to try my luck at night bus roulette, often the last chance saloon if you want a dignified return home, at least without having to phone the World Bank for an emergency relief loan that would get a taxi driver interested. Night buses aren't like day buses, the routes seem random with unfamiliar terminus's. Still I jumped on one I thought was going in the rough direction of Lewisham. You have to treat night bus routes like driving a golf ball down a fairway, you have an idea of the direction you should be pointing, you might zig-zag a bit, but you'll end up nearer home than you are at the moment, so its all good.
Next thing that dawns on me, is actually the dawn, dawning on me. Looking out the window of the bus, now empty of punters, are trees, and fields with animals in them, cows and farms that look like the one in The Darling Buds of May. Now I hadn't lived in London very long but my keen eye, even with my naivety, I realised I'm not in London anymore. I guessed correctly as it happens, I was in Kent. The driver was helpful, just get off here he said, cross the road and you'll get a bus going back into town. Great advice, thanks very much, very helpful, I wasn't to bothered, an old hand now at these impromptu city tours. An hour I waited as the sun came up, then the bus arrived , it was the same one, I could have just stayed on it, in the warm, I might even had gotten another 40 winks.
I could go on, but you might be reading this on public transport and be nodding off with the sheer banality of it all, if so, well done for getting this far and my tip, just stand up, I've only fallen asleep standing up once, and generally speaking the bang on the face you get is quite effective at bringing you round.
Lang may yer lum reek.