So I had to go to England recently, and to get from Stansted airport up to central Lincolnshire. I seldom go to England unless there is a very good reason to do so, and am completely out of touch with how public transport works, or doesn’t work, as the case may be. When I lived there, if you wanted to go somewhere by train you went to the station and bought a ticket. Now, you buy on-line to get the best deal.
I wanted to go from Stansted to Place X. Buying one ticket from Stansted to place X would cost £56.60. But if I bought a ticket from Stansted to Place A, and another ticket from Place A to Place B, and another ticket from Place B to Place X, it cost less than £20. Despite the fact that it was the identical route, on the identical trains, at the identical time as if I’d been travelling on a through ticket. But hugely cheaper to book the journey in “segments” instead of as a whole. I expect there’s logic in it somewhere, but it’s evaded me. Do I need to understand the logic? No. But I do need to know the system for future reference.
As anybody who travels on Ryan Air will know, your luggage weight and capacity is barely sufficient to pack a change of underwear and a bikini, but I was taking with me clothes for a funeral. So I wore three pairs of thermal tights beneath my jeans; two thermal vests beneath one fleece beneath one heavy wool jumper beneath a heavy denim coat lined with fleece. I could barely fit into the unfeasibly narrow slow that passes for a seat on Ryan Air.
Arriving at Stansted with plenty of time in hand, I roamed around mindlessly for a while to recover from the effect of the halitosis of the passenger who sat on my right on the plane, and then went down to the railway station. It seemed suspiciously inactive. All the ticket machines were “Out of service”. A very nice man in a fluorescent jacket explained that there was “an incident” on the line between London and Stansted, and no trains would be running for a considerable time. But, he said, just pop up the stairs and go to bus bay 38, and they will take you to Bishops Stortford from where I could pick up my connections. And indeed there was a very jolly man at bay 38, also wearing a fluorescent jacket, and he herded a small and slightly bewildered group of us onto a little bus and duly deposited us outside the railway station at Bishops Stortford.
Bouquet, Greater Anglia.
I asked the gentleman behind the Bishops Stortford counter how I would get to Point A from Bishops Stortford. Unfortunately he had a slight speech impediment, it it took me a while to translate that I had to catch a train to Ely, but disembark at Cambridge, and get a train from there to Point A. Which I did and was then able to catch all my connections with no problem. All told it took 12 hours, two car journeys, one flight, one bus ride and four train rides to reach my destination. All credit to each train service which arrived exactly on time, was clean and tidy, if somewhat over-heated for a person wearing up to 6 layers of thermal clothing.
After a day to cool down and recover, I went to visit the attractive city of Lincoln, whose jewel is of course the splendid cathedral. I had a number of small errands to do, and although Lincoln is fairly small and compact, I thought a street map would be useful to make best use of my time. I asked a friendly man where the Tourist Office was. He snorted and said there wasn’t one, and bloody soon the way the sodding country was going there wouldn’t be anything left of it. I found a metal box mounted on a pillar. It said it you put a £1 coin in a slot, a map would come out. Ignoring my own advice, I put the coin in the slot. Predictably no map appeared. I pressed the “Coin Return” button, and no coin returned.
On the drive to East Midlands airport for my return flight, I was struck with the beauty of the landscape in that part of the world, the open spaces, pretty villages, and stunning Belvoir Castle perched on top of its hill. But …. oh my goodness, what a mess the roadsides are. Mile after mile of litter. Plastic bottles, beer cans, paper bags, cigarette packets, food wrappers, old newspapers, bits of plastic sheeting. Here in France we almost never seen rubbish beside the roads, so what’s happening in England?
“It’s all down to the cutbacks,” I was told. “The councils don’t bother clearing up the roadsides any more.”
Well, I suppose I can understand that. You look around, read the papers, talk to people, listen to the news and cannot help but be aware that swingeing cuts are being made to public services. But what I can’t understand is the mentality of the people who are actually throwing their crap out onto the roads. Don’t they have any pride in their country? Are they too stupid or lazy to put their rubbish into a bin?
Brickbat, litter louts.
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