Well, I have just under three weeks left of work – two weeks, four days to be exact. And if we take away the Fridays I ‘work from home’ (ahem) that leaves me with just 12 days of being in the office. 12 days of geting up at 5.45am, 12 days of buying my boss her sandwiches, 12 days of pretending to care about whether the aircon in the office works or not. But most and best of all…only 12 days left of commuting.

Over 24 years I have spent on average a total of 833 days on a train (well, not just one train – not even my trains get delayed that much) and for about 200 of them I was no doubt standing. I’ve spent in excess of £60,000 on train tickets, been sick in transit due to alcohol 4 times, missed my stop 0 times (yay, go me), got intimate with a member of the opposite sex in a first class carriage 1 time (again, yay, go me) and I’ve heard the most ridiculous excuses as to why there are delays, ranging from the commonly heard ‘leaves on the line’ to the slightly confusing ‘sorry for the delay, we are following another train’ – and there was me thinking one single train just went back and forth all the time.

I also remember the days when you could smoke on a train. There would be designated carriages to do this in and you never knew if you were sitting next to a stranger or a friend as you couldn’t see them through the thick smog of smoke. And trying to tell your partner/mother that you hadn’t had a cigarette on the way home when you could almost wring the nicotine out of your jacket sleeve was a really tough gig.

Over the years I’ve listened to some strange conversations people have had on their mobiles, the most disconcerting being from the middle aged, well dressed gent who started by telling his anonymous friend how he used to visit his ex-wife, trying to persuade her to do odd things in bed, and ended with him complaining about the injunction she had served against him. Hmm. Sounds like a real keeper.

And, of course, I can’t forget the time a rather mature, inebriated lady took a fancy to the chap sitting opposite me one evening. I watched him prise her off once or twice when she tried cosying up against him but I couldn’t sit there and watch her do it a third time. I stepped in with the ‘do you mind keeping your hands off my boyfriend’ comment. It worked – she stomped off (after slamming his laptop lid closed very hard) and I ended up chatting to a grateful, new friend for the rest of the journey home. Turns out she lived in the same town as us so we acted like a couple of school kids and hid around the side of the train station giggling and sharing a cigarette while she stumbled off down the high street. Ahhhh, those were the days.

But luckily you could distract yourself from most conversations by concentrating on the annoyingly tinny music coming from your fellow passenger’s headphones. When you find yourself singing along to it you realise that maybe you should tell them to turn it down but, no, that’s not the English way. We’ll just tut to ourselves, raise our eyebrows at a fellow sufferer and maybe even comment on it as we alight from the train but only the bravest of the brave will actually tap the offender on their arm and ask them to adjust the sound level.

And who hasn’t experienced the joy of sitting in a train carriage in the middle of summer with the heating on full blast which can make you feel like you’ve achieved a certain amount of weight-loss by the time you reach your stop.

It's going to be a bad day

Last winter – you just knew it was going to be a bad day that day

But, finally, there is nothing like the gloom that envelopes you when you look out of your lounge window on a winter’s morning and see maybe one or two snowflakes falling. You just know that your journey time to work has just doubled. And I’m afraid I’m going to experience this on Monday as the snow started falling last night. It’s not settled that much but it is enough to completely wreck our train services. Hey ho, at least I won’t have to worry about it next winter.

Don’t get me wrong though. I am eternally grateful to the UK for it’s comprehensive rail system which is one of the best in all the world. Where else can you get from London to Penistone (snigger) in South Yorkshire with only one train change? Unfortunately though I couldn’t find a train to Boggy Bottom in Hertfordshire (yes, it exists. Google it) but I’m sure the equally comprehensive bus service could deliver you in no time at all.

Anyway, I’m glad I’ve got that off my chest and I’m going to get up at 5.45am on the first Monday after I finish work just so that I can go back to bed again 10 minutes later.

Until next time…

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