Puzzling properties of my mind (by )

On Saturdays, I take the train home from London.

I was feeling particularly groggy last Saturday; I was tired for some reason, I had a lot to carry (three bags, two heavy ones and one bulky one full of clothes), and I foolishly decided to pack and get straight on the Underground without going out to buy and then eat breakfast, in my desire to get home to my wife and child soon.

So after climbing the steep hill between my lodgings and the underground station I was already running a bit short on blood sugar. Which is probably why, while navigating a route around the underground lines they had closed for maintenance over the weekend, I got on the Victoria Line in the wrong direction, and nearly got on another line in the wrong direction while making my way back.

I grabbed some food at Paddington and leapt onto the next homewards-bound train; there were no free seats so I crouched in the vestibule with my bags, wolfing down my food, then leaning blearily against the wall while my body verified it really was food, so that it could afford to release my final reserves of nutrients to keep me going while it processed the new bounty (although, as it made it abundantly clear to me, it would rather I slept while it did this).

I got off at Swindon to change for the Stroud train; it was 2:35pm or so, and the next train to Cheltenham Spa was at 3:00pm or so, so I rang home and told them to pick me up from Stroud at 3:30pm, then went and sat down.

Some ten minutes later I glanced up at the indicator board, and saw that the next train was actually at 3:15pm. Odd - I must have misread it. I rang Sarah up and said I'd be a quarter of an hour later. It was still a Cheltenham Spa train from platform 2, though.

So at 3:10pm I went to platform 2, which was a little terminating platform used for the branch line up to Cheltenham, and got onto the train. It pulled off, and the inspector came to check tickets; when I showed him mine, he said "But this train doesn't go to Stroud. We're going to Westbury! You'd best get off at Chippenham and get the next train back to Swindon!".


Well, I did that, and made it onto the correct train this time, and got to Stroud at about 4:45pm instead of 3:45pm; I wonder what time I'd have made it home if I'd not gone the wrong way on the Underground, too.

But through this whole day of bleary groggy failing to manage to comprehend even something as simple as the rail system, what did I while away my long waits doing?

Analysing distributed algorithms. A specialist topic far more involved than rail route planning.

How I was finding that a welcome rest from trying to figure out which train to get on, I don't know.

Or does this just say something about our rail system?

1 Comment

  • By Angie, Thu 25th Dec 2008 @ 1:19 am

    A very happy Christmas and prosperous New Year to you all and the same to Barbara. I hope to see everyone soon. Barbara, thank you for your kindness.

    Alaric keep eating enough carbohydrate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    love Mum

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