A Ghost Train

It’s Friday 13th November. I hope you are feeling brave.

The weather promised to be warm and sunny when I looked out of the curtains, but now there is a cold wind and it is drizzling with rain. I blow along the road to South Woodford station and tap in to the platform.

“The next train is not in service” it anounces on the board.

From the distance, a train pulls along. People on the platform get up and move to the edge to get on. It doesn’t stop. It said it wouldn’t. The driver and his mate smile knowingly to each other. It probably happened at the last staion. There is something different about this train. It sounds different. Sounds from my childhood. It isn’t a usual central line train. It is one of the Silver Trains being used as an engineers train. I’m smiling listening to the sound, quite unlike the wailing and whining the trains make now. Theres a knock Knock sound as it pulls along further. Magic.

I’m watching it disappear in to the distance. Why didn’t I take a photo? Perhaps we will catch it up. We can’t, we are on a track.

We’ve been held at a signal outside Leytonstone. “There’s and Engineers train in Platform Two” the driver anounces over the intercom. We might catch it up in the other platform. I hear a noise and look ot of the window. It’s the engineers train going back the way it came. Perhaps it forgot something. Perhaps it has a little run out every so often to keep its hand in.

Stratford is busier because of the few minutes hold up in the service. The station seems unable to cope with any changes to the plan.

I’m at Mle end where I change trains. The announcement tells me it is a Hammersmith and City Train, but a District Line Train pulls in. Such fun.

I’m not in the Library for long. I love the Cd’s and find one about Predicting the weather with a coffe cup. Sounds different. Something for the car.

As I leave the library, the sky darkens. I haven’t brought and umberella. You would have thought i’d hav learnt by now. I’m walking along Grays Inn Road and the sky is now seriously dark. Its like night.

The storm has hit. Swirling rain soaks me in all directions. I try and pretend its not that bad and walk a little faster. Now its hail stones. I try putting a carrier bag on my head but it doesn’t do much. My skinny jeans are going see through.

I’ve taken refuge in the door way of an up matket solicitors. I’m staying dry except when the wind swirls in the direction to blow it all at me. I’m trying to memories the name of the solicitors to write here. It obviously didn’t work.

The rain has subsided and I’m on my way. Don’t think I’ll stay up here long. I discover Costa Coffee has gone from the Waterstones near London University. So has the bargain book section. A new Waterstones Coffe shop is being built. Can’t say I’m hopeful. And the Costa in Goodge Street is also closed while they construct a new type of Costa with better food options. Sounds expensive. Bet the students aren’t happy.


A Nephew tags along

It’s the 23rd October.
Today I have an accomplice so I’ll keep it brief. My Nephew has escaped accompanying his mother to the dentist and instead is accompanying me. Its a good excuse to check out the Children’s Library. We are on a mission to get a song by Flanders and Swan.
In the music Library we hunt the shelves but can’t find it. My Nephew is amazed that there are so many music books.
“How are we ever going to find it?” he asks.
I ask and assistant. She offers to find it on the shelf for us.
“He was asking me how we were ever going to find it” I tell her.
She then shows him how the Dewey System works on the side of the books.
“Wow” he says, sounding suitably impressed even if he wasn’t.

The Children’s Library is Ok and we have a look round. My Nephew isn’t in the mood for borrowing books so we move quickly on.

Outside we come to the Barbican Greengrocers and Fruiterers. There are pink heathers outside and we buy one. My Nephew pays with the £5 note I give him and then he suspects, correctly, it is the one his Mum gave him to get lunch with. The fact I will pay on my card doesn’t seem to calm him. He offers to carry the bag. It was his note. He will hold it ransom until I pay up.

Its a long way to walk to Holborn when you are eight so we find a bus stop and catch the Boris Bus. It is packed. My Nephew offers a seat to an old Lady who is very appreciative. She thanks him personally as she gets off and offers him it back. She can see the pain in my eyes from his boney bum on my lap.

He is rhythmically shaking the heather in its bag. The drumming lessons are paying off.

We browse the shops and then head for home. His mother has been to the dentist and is now having coffee at Costa in the Highams Park Tesco. Lets just say, I won’t rush to visit that Tesco again.

A Route Master and a pain in the bum.

It’s the 2nd of October. I’m out in the sunshine. I keep singing ” A blanket two sheets, and a pillow” which the Two Ronnies rhymed with Waring and Gillows in one of their songs. My book on London Shopping showed me about Waring and Gillows in Oxford street many years ago. An internet search showed that they are still going as an internet company. Time moves on. The book must be returned.
Its a beautiful autumnal day. Its the sort of day I always picture my school days being. My Journey to Barbican is quick but there’s a change when i get to the end. On leaving Barbican station, I notice a sign advertising Tea at 80p. This being much cheaper than the Barbican centre, and it being a nice day, I decide to chance my arm and go in. The shop, Tardis like, is much bigger than the entrance would suggest. Plenty of freshly made sandwiches. I order my tea.
“you want your bag left in?” the girl asks.
Knowing how milky it will probably be, I say yes.
I’ve only got a £10 note so I buy a bag of crisps and a huge Iced doughnut.. All for about £2.50. A bargain in my book.
I walk to the High walk and find a seat in the sun. It’s lovely. A man comes out with a watering can and I remember the allotment beds and wonder if they had any crops.
I’m on a mission today. I’ve gone all high tech. Last week, I enrolled on a free Robotics course on the Future learn website. Thats not dancing you understand. Previously, I ordered a Kano children’s computer kit based on the popular Raspberry PI. And a mini control card. This may seem random to you readers, but on some of the days when I’m not swanning around the Barbican, I teach Computing to Primary School Children. Programming is the big thing lately and I want to start a robotics club at lunchtime. I need to learn. Fast.
The Barbican is quieter today. I look for a book on Raspberry Pi but cant find the computer section. Its one of those odd things. Computers were not big enough to include in the Dewey System so the now fit in a 0 category. I look but it isn’t where I thought it should be. A nice lady points out a huge section on the other side of the Library. I’d expect no less from the Barbican. However Raspberry Pi is popular and the book I’d like is out. BUT there is a book at Shoe Lane!
I ask what time Shoe Lane stays open till and someone finds out.

I pass the Barbering School near Smithfield. It’s packed with chairs and young men cutting the hair of young men. There is an old fashioned stationers which seems to have a second shop as a store. It is good to see another independent shop and I hope it is well used.
Long Lane is certainly long

On arrival in Shoe Lane, I find the entrance to the Library and expect it will be up a few few floor. Oh no. Its down a few floors. I descend the stair case which is not dissimilar to a multi storey Car Park. There’s not a soul about. I’m beginning to feel I’ve got it wrong. I see the electronic doors which look more secure than usual for a Library. Everything has a touch of the military about it. I go in and find a Library much as you would expect with the complete absence of daylight. It feels slightly unnerving. I ask for the computer section and the book I want is there. I ask the girl if I can check out and she takes my book.
“Self Service hasn’t arrived here…..yet” she says.
I don’t mind. I like to talk to someone.
I leave, thinking that I have discovered a safe bunker built for the Librarians of England on the day of Armageddon. It’s nice to think that there will be books available in a post apocalyptic world.

I decided to have a bus ride. Route 15 still runs a Route master Heritage service between Trafalgar Square and The Tower of London. Boris seems to think the demand for a heritage service has declined since he designed his new bus. Nonsense. There is no comparison. But the Heritage routes have been cut back to this last part. The bus is empty when I find the start actually outside Charing Cross Station. No Gibson ticket machine. The lady conductor checks my Oyster and we are off. We’ve only gone a few yards, the bus pulls up in a queue of traffic and I get a sharp pain in my stomach. I think it will pass. It is coming in waves. I have the desire to get home. The bus hasn’t reached Tower Hill station. I see a sign for Aldgate station and jump off. I don’t know the area. in front of me is Fenchurch Street station. Great. A Terminus that does not have a tube station. Another sharp twinge. I use an app on my phone a find the direction of Aldgate tube. I stop to take a picture of the Police phone box outside and then look for my train. I’m disorientated. I find my way to Liverpool Street and eventually get home. You don’t want to know the rest. Suffice it to say I’m glad I wasn’t still on the train. A few hours later and it had all passed. I think the excitement of a Route Master had been a bit too much.