I’ve been making the same journey to work on and off for almost 20 years. I leave our house, turning left up the road and then left again passing through the garages round the back and out onto the road which runs parallel to ours. I cross this road and then head down the service road behind the parade of shops. Down this road there is a small retail unit, which over the years has sold used cars, was empty for ages, but now is home to a car valet service which recently added a small coffee shop to the front.
At the other end of the road is the Scout Hut where I spent many a happy evening in my youth. At the pinnacle of my Scouting Career I was a Patrol Leader and gained the Chief Scout Award, which now seems a lifetime ago.
Having negotiated the puddles and mud in the community centre car park I continue down the footpath which passes the Primary School, which Junior briefly attended. The other end of this footpath enters a road of large Victorian houses and small cottages. Between two of the houses in a footpath which leads into a dead end road, where I used to deliver newspapers and this leads out to the shops and banks opposite the railway station. From there I have to dodge the morning cars and buses as they hurry to carry their passengers away to work. Once safely across the main road, it’s a short dash through the taxi rank and into the side gate of the station. Until about a year or so ago it was a straight run through the subway and onto the platform. Now however I have the additional task of fumbling around in my pocket for my season ticket and feeding it into the ticket barrier in the hope that I will be allowed passed to continue my journey by rail. Most days this works, but occasionally the gates don’t like the look of me and refuse to let me in.
Over the years the train service to work has gradually improved to the point where, with careful planning, I am mostly able to sit down on the train. It wasn’t always like that. When I first started my commuting the trains were dirty, drafty affairs, with “Slam Doors”, windows that didn’t keep the rain out and electric motors which couldn’t cope with “The Wrong Kind of Snow”. Today we have become used to clean modern trains with automatic doors, no opening windows, air con and seats which were designed for anorexic midgets. The fares have also increased to a point where this year’s season ticket has broken the £2000 mark.
Once squeezed into my seat I usually read from my Kindle and then fall asleep. Usually I wake in time for my stop, but I have once slept through and ended up at London Bridge, instead of East Croydon, but that’s another story.
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