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Monday March 17th  2014  Tim Candler

 

     If I went insane and started getting worked up about which railway station was better, Marylebone or Charring Cross, Iíd have to say Marylebone. Marylebone has a nice name, it's enclosed, it has a giant roof, it smells nice. It has a sort of muffled library quality, and you get the sense that everyone knows what they are doing. There's no wandering around asking foolish questions. It's a sort of wise place. Whereas Charring Cross, which is also enclosed, is loud, it's noisy, it has sudden announcements over loudspeakers, which can send people to wild-eyed staring at the big overhead timetable, and there's a lot of looking at wristwatches and a general air of confusement that's not in the least helpful if you happen to be something like eleven years old. And too, Charring Cross serves the South East of England, which is not my favorite part of the world, and I have seen some truly unsavory places.  They're not Wessex Men, or Mercian's or Proud Celts down there. Nor was I ever under the impression that they might have been Normans who had erred on the side of breeding with each other. And I have to think sometimes that maybe they washed ashore on a bit of seaweed when no one with a sense of responsibility for the history books was looking. They're sort of Pigeon toed Cassius types, good for hop picking and moaning about how much cheaper things are in Portugal and how dreadful their own country has become since the passing of Queen Victoria. But I havenít actually been anywhere near Marylebone, or Charring Cross, or the South East of England  for probably fifty years. So things might have changed. Anyway, when the diesel electric wheedles it's way to a halt at the Marylebone Railway Station, doors fly open, and there's a rush along the platform toward the ticket collector, and you can get yourself involved in something that might remind you of Hartebeest crossing a Crocodile infested river.

 

      Maybe I'm being a little unfair, perhaps it was some kind of  team building activity, and the first to his office gets a sausage role, or a pork pie, or a hot cross bun.  But if you're something like eleven and a little short for your age and  you have a choice between latching onto a nun or a little old lady, chose the nun. Nun's have a glamour, which probably comes from being married to Jesus, and men who go to work carrying newspaper must take that into account because they are nervous of nuns. They'll give them a wide birth. Otherwise it's a sad thing if all that's left of a little old lady is her hand bag, and all that's left of a school boy is his school cap. With experience, of course, a person learns to wait a bit in his seat until all the excitement has died down, then stroll along to the ticket collector, who'll give you  a glare for keeping him waiting, but it's worth it. Then when you've handed over your ticket, and the ticket collector has slammed the gate, you can look up at the giant roof of the Marylebone Railway station and you can wonder at the men who built it and thank them for it, because in the outdoors it's usually a sort of mist with an occasional raindrop that makes everything drip. Then you have to find your way to Charring Cross, by The Underground Railway System, which some people might call A Subway and around the world there are probably a lot of other names for underground railway trains. But if you are something like eleven and short for your age, you do have to wonder why when they built The London Underground, they made it almost impossible for anyone under five foot to attract the attention of the man employed to sell Underground Railway tickets. And this can be a little stressful, particularly if you can't necessarily remember where you put the money you were given for the underground railway fare and instead of sensible suitcase to stand on, you  have one of those structure-less canvass carry bags. Which means that to get your Underground Railway ticket, it's pretty much a given that your new toothpaste tube will burst all over your clean socks and underpants, and if ever you do get to school, the matron will have tut-tut or two to give you.  And at the beginning of a school term, no one is even a little bit happy to see you. (to be continued.....)

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