Friday, 11 May 2012

Someone Tried To Kill Us Last Night

Okay so maybe my headline is a touch exaggerated but what exactly did the person who pushed a shopping trolley onto the main London West Coast Line just outside Stafford intend? We'd been to London to visit the Grand Designs exhibition where we found plenty of great ideas for our not so grand house in Framlingham and, after a pleasant twenty four hours in which we met Paul and Josephine, we were heading back on the Virgin Pendolino. I'd even treated us to First Class (it's quite cheap on the 20.30).

The omens were not great when the First Class steward announced in a most apologetic voice as we pulled out of Euston that he'd got no food for us. His tone was pleading for us not to blame him although he didn't utter those exact words - he came up with the food equivalent of leaves on the line "they haven't left us any". To his credit, in an attempt to replicate Jesus' trick with the loaves and fishes he did conjure up a cream cracker with a sliver of cheese on it plus five grapes for those who were interested;  at least they hadn't run out of wine although as our car was parked at Preston I had to decline.

The journey was uneventful. I managed to finish another novel (reading that is, not writing one) before there was a metallic grating noise and the train juddered to a stop. We were at a standstill for some time before the train manager announced that, as we might have guessed, the train had hit something and the driver was now out on the track inspecting the train. To cut a long story short, we were delayed for forty minutes. The train had hit said shopping trolley left on the line.

Now, when the trolley dumper was doing his dumping I wonder if the thought crossed his mind that, however well engineered the trains are, there was a possibility that the trolley could have derailed an express train. And if that train had derailed into the path of an oncoming train at a hundred miles per hour, did he think of the possible consequences? I very much doubt it. In the end the consequences were that half a dozen or more people on the train missed connections to far flung outposts of England or Scotland (to their credit Virgin fixed up alternative transport) and the rest of us were very late home. That's a very late night for an awful lot of people.

I've been called for jury service in the near future and look forward to seeing British justice in action. I'll be interested to learn if something like this would earn a slap on the wrist and a petty fine or a charge of attempted murder as, in reality, if consequences had all run against the train, anything could have happened.