Take Two


Lincoln – Newark – Kings Cross – Earls Court – Richmond

After yesterday’s disaster I ended up breaking the habit of a lifetime. I have no idea what made me do it, except perhaps sunspots or the weird phase of the moon, but I actually booked assistance for this journey. Actually that’s not entirely true, East Coast trains, as a rule, have two or three wheelchair spaces on a train. One of these is always in First Class. Unlike every other train operator East Coast would rather run the train with an empty wheelchair space than “upgrade” a wheelchair user if the spaces in Standard Class are full. They may make an exception if you’ve pre-booked.

My lift to Newark arrived on time. After the polava of yesterday the driver at least knew where she was coming today, and so it was that I arrived at Newark within plenty of time and relatively relaxed. Newark is a relatively small station but the staff there are always friendly and efficient and whisked me over to the platform to wait for my train. Newark is also open and windswept so invariably cold if not also wet but I was lucky to find space in the small waiting room. The train arrived and it instantly became clear I’d done the right thing booking because it was packed with red and white. After moving both people and luggage from the wheelchair space I was able to get settled and by way of apologising for disruption got talking to a young family sprawled around a nearby table. It transpired that mum and dad were taking their brood to London for the first time, with the ultimate goal of watching a cup final at Wembley. I’ve done this trip into London dozens of times so had the pleasure of pointing out the sights to the young kids as we approached London, Alexandra Palace, the Emirates Stadium, the BT Tower, etc. I also suggested some places they might like to see, but my suggestion of Platform 9 3/4 was met with blank incomprehension. I think I’ve met the only kids in the Western world who don’t know who Harry Potter is.

As usual, and despite booking, I was left waiting for ten minutes at King’s Cross to get off the train. I was also not surprised to discover that the lift was still out of order which meant a detour to get to the Underground and the final leg of my journey back to Richmond. Having had an interesting but eventful few days away there is a definite pleasure in being able to relax knowing that it’s highly unlikely you’ll have to handle the unexpected, at least for a few days.


About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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