Sunday, 20 October 2013

Running around again.

Last week notices started appearing on lamp posts on our street: CAUTION RUNNERS. We wondered briefly what “caution runners” were. Could they be like the people you see in American films who hand-deliver subpoenas to ensure that they are actually received? When someone has received a caution form the police, does a runner take a notice of this to them? Of course, we were just playing around with language again. A couple of exclamation marks would have done it: CAUTION! RUNNERS! And, of course, we knew exactly what was going on, especially as it had a date underneath it: today’s date. 

So when I ran the long way into the village this morning – my usual Sunday morning routine to buy the newspaper and get some exercise into the bargain – I wasn’t surprised to see race marshals along the road as I approached the crossroads. There was a half marathon going on but none of the runners had arrived yet. 

And then I realised that I knew one of the marshals, someone who used to work with Phil long ago and whose son was for a while a close friend of our son, as well being a Doctor Who fan and a computer games fanatic. Small world syndrome strikes again! So I stopped to say hello and catch up on bits of family news. Both our sons work in London (Small world syndrome strikes again!) but haven’t been in touch really since they left school. At that point the runners started to arrive so we cut short our chat and I went on my way. 

My exercise routine, in fact my routine as a whole, has been disrupted by grandparental duties over the last couple of weeks and will continue to be so for a fair few weeks yet. Our daughter is doing a teaching practice placement at the junior school she herself attended (Small world syndrome strikes again!) and needs me to collect the small people form their school This is more complicated than it need be because her car was smashed into by a loony boy racer several weeks ago. As she still does not have her own car, which I am insured to drive, but is driving a courtesy car, which I could drive if I opted to pay at least £5 a day to cover the insurance, I am using public transport once again. 

 This is not usually a problem. I get my exercise by walking up to their school form the train station and then walking them back down again to catch the train home. On Friday, however, I needed to get home quickly and wanted to be sure of catching the early train, which we frequently miss because of tired-leg syndrome. So I booked a taxi to collect us. I thought I had booked it in plenty of time. What I hadn’t taken into account was that it was about to start raining. Strictly speaking this should not have made any difference but apparently it did. 

Taxi time arrived and I stood outside the school with two children. No taxi. Five minutes later I called the taxi firm again. They checked their system: yes, the taxi should be there in five minutes. Five minutes later I received a text message: Your taxi has been dispatched. It even told me the registration number of the taxi. Five minutes later I called the taxi firm again and was sent directly to a recorded message telling me that the taxi would be there within 6 minutes. I repeated this a couple of times, trying to get through to a human being so that I could have a little rant about the fact that I was going to miss my train!!! 

Eventually, two minutes after the train had gone, the taxi arrived. Because of the rain there was a big demand for taxis and he had taken on another job just before mine. So much for booking in advance. If it had not been raining so hard I would have marched the small people down to the station anyway. As it was I had my little rant and then negotiated a reduced price for taking us all the way to the small people’s home as our next train would not be for another 50 minutes. I was not impressed!!! 

Travel seems to be difficult at the moment. Last week I got onto a train to bring me back from Manchester. This was better option that the tram because I would have a short walk home from the train station through pleasant surroundings whereas I would have longish wait for a connecting bus form the tram stop in less pleasant surroundings. I sat on the train, together with a whole bunch of people, but the train didn’t set off. 

Eventually there was an announcement: the train was cancelled because they had not been able to find a guard/ticket inspector to travel on it! Now, I know the employment situation here is better than in Spain but there are still people looking for work. So why is Transport for Greater Manchester unable to find a guard to ensure that my train runs? So I had to catch the tram after all and wait in insalubrious surroundings for my connecting bus. At least I hadn’t paid for my ticket. My old biddy bus pass lets me travel free. But I hope all those who had paid for their tickets and who didn’t want to wait an hour for the next train were able to get a refund! 

Once again, not impressed! Surely things can only get better!

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