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Train travel and shingles

For reasons which need not detain us here, on Sunday afternoon I felt obliged to take a train from the south coast to the outer suburbs of London in readiness for certain commitments that I had in the latter quarter, starting from 0800 hours yesterday.

As Molesworth was prone to suggest, “as any fule no”, travelling on Britain’s railways on a Sunday is not something that can be recommended to anyone at the best of times.

This is because those with responsibility for such things, assuming that the great British public does less train travelling on weekend than it does during its Monday to Friday commuting slog [is this still true, I ask, given the new fashion for WFH (“working from home”)?], tend to schedule the bulk of their railway maintenance/improvement “works” on Saturdays & Sundays in the vain hope that this will cause less disruption.

It doesn’t.

On Sunday – after a 55 minute wait at my starting station – I discovered that the first train bound for London would, unusually, not be ending its journey at Victoria but at London Bridge; furthermore, after East Croydon, it was not going to stop at Clapham Junction – at which (naturally) I wished to switch trains – but instead proceed direct to London Bridge.

Upon reaching East Croydon, therefore, I alighted and was informed by a member of staff that no trains from East Croydon were going to Clapham Junction on Sunday and so my only course was to get back on the train and proceed to its next stop London Bridge, take the Jubilee underground line to Waterloo … and there catch a train out to my destination.

Already anticipating potential complications, I was half-prepared for what happened next.

The train did not proceed direct to London Bridge at all.

About a mile after East Croydon it stopped at somewhere called South Norwood where approximately 1,500 Manchester United fans streamed on board, causing an immediate massive crush of humanity, and then proceeded to regale the train’s non-footballing passengers with an endless series of pornographic chants and songs (sung at maximum volume) simultaneously promoting Manchester United – and deriding Liverpool FC and its fans – all the way to our terminus.

From there – on my Jubilee Line journey to Waterloo and then beyond – the United fans first disembarked and then I was joined by approximately 500 Arsenal fans, presumably also wending their way home after attending a different Premiership match in London, whom thankfully kept their pornographic chants and songs promoting Arsenal and deriding Manchester United and its fans largely to themselves.

My Sunday journey into – and then out of – London was not one that I would wish to repeat in a hurry.

My biggest success yesterday was in getting my “oldies’ shingles jab” done at my local GP surgery.

I had originally booked this for 9.30am today, but as soon as the surgery opened yesterday (Monday) I called it and pleaded for the appointment to be brought forward – this on the grounds that – if I was able to have it yesterday instead at any point – this would potentially save me having to stay over for a second successive night.

By chance I was able to obtain a new appointment for 2.20pm yesterday afternoon.

Once the nurse had collected me from the reception waiting area and taken me to her room, I first asked her to explain exactly what shingles was and also how this NHS programme being offered to oldies had come about.

The nurse correctly assumed that I had had chicken pox in my youth – and then advised that this meant that I’d have been carrying the chicken pox “germ” in my body ever since.

Shingles was/is an adult version of chicken pox that could affect oldies via skin rashes and other symptoms more seriously than it affected youngsters. This was why the NHS was offering those aged between 70 and 80 a shingles jab.

Having presented my right arm and had the jab I was then advised that any adverse reaction – should I have one – would manifest itself within 24 hours.

I can report that (fingers crossed): “so far, so good …”


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About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts