Durham With A Bullet
I've put this entry in the Travel Writing category, partly because it is writing about travel but partly because it's ironic. In the proper sense, not the irritating student sense. Basically irony is saying one thing and meaning another and I class travel writing as writing about interesting places and not actual travelling which is satan's very own scrotal pleasure. Ack! But this entry is about the act of travellling to Durham and, oh gods, was that an experience.
Five bastarding hours on a Virgin train.
And that's the actual stated journey time. We didn't have any hilarious Virgin excuses to add to the journey ("I'm sorry everyone, due to a porn film being shot at Banbury, this train i being diverted via Constantinople and Vladivostock, we apologise for any inconvenience"). All we had was five hours in both directions. Erk!
The new Virgin trains were designed by someone who lived in a bucket for 37 years before having the Starship Enterprise described to him by a man for whom English was merely a third language. This man was then asked to design a train and decided to do so in a way which would appeal to James T Kirk. However rather than the
ship train being built by Vulcans from the 26th century it was built by people in Rotherham or somewhere similar. Therefore the doors go whooooshuck like on the Enterprise, but they don't actually open that far. Or for that long. And when they close you have to push to button to get them to open again, otherwise you get sliced in half. For some reason this happens a lot to the elderly.
Then there's the toilets. The only place where the doors don't obey the above rules rigourously. In fact these doors open when they feel like it, regardless of whether you have pressed the Lock button or not. This exposes you and your shame to the crowd of pissed up rugby fans who couldn't get 7382578245791 seats together in the crowded coach D and so decided to fulfill their life dreams of being a fire hazard on public transport. Also the toilets stink. Bad. Like the toilets at the Leeds Festival do after five days of continuous, cannnabis drenched piss. Do they clean train toilets?
Anyway, spending five hours in the company of dismembered geriatrics and piss stained rugby fans is great, as any LSD victim can tell you. But I wasn't on LSD. Or even Nytol. No, all I had was glucosamine sulphate (yum) and sandwiches. My own on the way there (chicken caesar, ridiculuously large and costing 12p) and the bought Virgin ones on the way back (a sliver of chicken, an unidentifiable spread, a small amount of hamster droppings and all costing a tenner). Plus the newspaper (Grauniad Saturday edition) and a coursebook. Five hours there and back. Is it any wonder I went batshit and tried to gnaw my own leg off?
The fellow travellers were the usual mix. The two nice old Geordie ladies who had a big conversation about cannabis and heroin and Kate Moss. They concluded, despite the Daily Mail one was carrying, that it was probably best to legalise cannabis and treat, rather than jail, those caught with drugs. The Daily Mail has clearly not triumphed yet over common sense. On the way back it was three trainee soldiers who all turned out to be about 12 years old. They mildly abused students for a while whilst I just shrugged. It's not wise to argue with someone who can get their hands on a tank.
So what did I learn? Nothing. Seriously, I can't afford a car, and I don't like coaches so there's really no other conclusions. My friends from home are still pretty much entirely found at Durham, Newcastle, York and Leeds, all of which are a long way away in the north. I can only reach them, and their 21st birthday parties, by train. Even if it does involve arriving at the party with old people giblets on me.