To Cambridge and Back Again

June 2013

The title above might look as if it stating the bleedin' obvious. If you go to Cambridge by train, you expect to come back again. East Midland trains wouldn't agree with you. They might think that you were being a tad, well, presumptive. On Monday afternoon on Ely station, after a really good day interviewing at Lucy Cavendish College,  as my eyes roamed over the colourful advert saying 'Improving our punctuality, improving your experience of our service' I heard a voice say, 'We are sorry to inform you that East Midland Train Services have cancelled the 5.38 to Nottingham.'
Cancelled. 
To Nottingham.
Cancelled.
Just like that.
For some time there was no alternative offered to the now cancelled train. Just a kind of a silence, a kind of muffled snuffling and rustling came from the tannoy. I looked around. no-one seemed to be panicking. perhaps this happened all the time around here.
Not like this round Notts and Derby. We take our train trips seriously.
We expect to get back.
Eventually we were told that we could take the 8.44 to Birmingham instead. The voice implied that it was optional. If we liked. We didn't have to.
Birmingham.
Birmingham is nowhere near Nottingham.
Maybe no-one down here knows this, I thought. Maybe they think it is all one big splodge of decaying industrialisation called 'oopnorth' beyond, say, Leicester. And you can arrive home in anyone's house. They are all the same and the people are interchangeable. 'Oh, I'll go home somewhere in Birmingham tonight. Same stuff on telly. Same chips for tea. Same demographic on street.'