Note: I was going to write a post about pensions tonight: one of the wise ones I do. Then, I was asked to pay what I consider to be an obscene amount of money to upgrade my ticket on the train. So, you are getting a measured rant instead of wisdom. If you don’t like rants go do something meaningful and come back on Thursday.
I just spend two days in London.
Travelling is tiring.
Giving lectures is tiring.
Staying away is tiring.
Working all the time while away really gets you knackered.
So, now you understand, my dear reader, why I decided to upgrade to First Class on the way back.
I got to Euston station, grabbed a sandwich and a bottle of water and boarded the train.
What I saw were little white tablecloths, mugs ready for coffee to be poured and emptiness.
Carriage after carriage of First Class seating completely empty.
But the seats looked comfortable.
So I sat at one of the tables, had my sandwich and started reading my book.
People in Virgin Trains uniform started coming around offering coffee, tea, food, wine and fruit.
I continued reading.
About twenty minutes into the journey the conductor came.
“I’d like to upgrade to a First Class ticket.” – I said. “Would this be possible?”
“It will be possible, madam, everything is possible.”
“And how much would this cost me?” – I asked.
“It will cost you £239 minus the cost of your ticket.”
“Seriously? This kind of money can get me to New York.”
After that, I apologised and moved to a standard class carriage.
Thinking about it, I wasn’t even cross. I just couldn’t believe that Virgin Trains can charge so much and get away with it.
In fact, my standard class ticket – admittedly a return – costs £181. All because on the way to London I had to get on a train that leaves from here a 9.23 in the morning and this is not the ‘cheap’ tickets time yet.
Getting cheap tickets isn’t cheap either: the cheapest I could have got was £78 return.
“Yeah, but what do you get for it?” – you may ask.
What you get for this money is dirty carriages, stinky toilets with broken tabs and noisy people talking on their phones.
Oh, and if you are very lucky you’ll get where you are going.
After today, I’m starting to agree with Flaubert (one of my favourite French writers) that trains only help us to move around and be stupid together. And I’m very tempted to stop travelling.
What’s wrong with Skype, I’m asking.