Three Hours in the Guards’ Van and a Tennis Shoe Sandwich!

That just about sums up a journey between Reading and Bodmin last Saturday!

Our journey actually started out at Coventry and all seemed to be going fine. Our train was delayed by 20 minutes, but that didn’t matter as we had almost an hour for our change at Reading. The Cafe on Cov station was closed, but that didn’t matter either as one of the staff who my partner knows made us a cup of tea and we’d planned to have breakfast in Reading. Cov station had a record of the assistance we had pre-booked, so all was cool.

Until Reading that is.

There we were met by no one but weren’t unduly worried as we still had over half an hour, so waited a while. After about ten minutes, it was clear that no one would be along any time soon, so we had to start trying to sort something out for ourselves. Initially when asking other passengers, staff members seemed to be thin on the ground. However we eventually tracked one down who said that someone would be along soon. A few more minutes elapsed then another staff member was found who echoed the first. Is this part of their induction at Reading I wonder, how to win friends and fob the customers off?

Eventually someone rude and non-communicative arrived who offered no apology but merely moaned on about having had to take a wheelchair off the train and how he was the only one working. Funny that, as we’d already met two other members of staff! And funny how wheelchairs always take priority huh? Oh yes, and funny, when he was asked to check, he had a record of our assistance request stuffed deep in his pocket, no doubt surrounded by fluff and dirty snot rags, he was that sort of guy!

So off we trotted to our platform and were told to take a seat. There was a lot of noise and bustle around us and at that point we realised that our miserable friend had probably walked off.

Our train pulled in and still no sign of miserable bastard so we got on. Then the fun started once again. Two blind people, one guide dog and two bags and an absolutely packed train. Reserved seats in coach A and we were probably somewhere in the vicinity of coach F! So off we wandered, climbing where necessary over abandoned luggage. We eventually arrived at the buffet where I had planned to ask for them to try and locate the guard for us, but we realised that coach A was an impossibility for us.

Fortunately at that moment, the guard appeared and was very kind and helpful. She’d found us two seats, not in the ordinary carriages but in the staff compartment just beside the buffet. This consisted of a long padded bench and a small table. We were extremely grateful to have it but after three hours it made our bums very numb!

So what next? Why, breakfast of course! So off I went to the buffet for two bacon rolls and two cold drinks. The bacon smelt delicious and was probably the only thing that prevented me from completely losing the plot when I was asked for £9.20! But I paid it! These guys get away with it every time as we can’t exactly say never mind, we’ll just pop over the road instead.

Back I went with the sandwiches but it was then that we realised that the bacon smell was just that, a smell. The wonderful aroma must have been sprayed, and missed because all that was in our sandwiches was a piece of tennis shoe! Yes, a rubbery flat, tasteless thing that resembled a tennis shoe, no more, no less!

So yes, another letter of complaint has gone off today. This is becoming an all too regular occurrence at the moment, but for £56 per ticket, we expected just a little more for our money.

About Mel Griffiths

I live and work in Nottingham, England and am blind. This blog is often centred around things that happen to me because of being blind. This is my space to write and sometimes people will disagree with what I write, but its the one place I have in which to be frank and honest. I also like to reflect on the funnier side of life from time to time.
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