Most depressing week of the year

You may have gathered that I have several jobs – aside from working from home, I teach three days a week in Hants, commuting in at 5.30am and returning around 8pm, unless, as this week, there’s parents evening. I’m told it sounds mad, but it’s really a joy, mostly.

I like my life, and it’s pretty far removed from the real evils of the world, for which I thank my lucky stars.

This week however, my immediate world went MAD: here’s the story in FB status updates… As is traditional, it’s all hilarious in hindsight, except that it really, really isn’t.

Sunday at 4:20pm : Watching Arsenal. Preparing for disappointment.

Sunday at 5:49pm : No need to worry about Arsenal’s poor performance when the guys right in front of you in the pub start LAMPING EACH OTHER WITH CHAIRS.

Monday at 11:29am : Oh my GOD this is what was happening down the road the other Friday night. http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/local-ealing-news/2012/01/16/judge-dredd-artist-badly-injured-after-arrest-in-hanwell-64767-30132486/ We have famous yet violent neighbours!

Monday at 3:43pm : And the police tape down the end of my road at the entrance to the park up the road? RAPE. Horrific. I can see mums walking their children to school through it now as I walk to work. My road has doubled its crime rate in a weekend. http://ealing.ealinggazette.co.uk/2012/01/witnesses-sought-after-woman-r.html

Tuesday at 3:20pm : Boyfriend robbed on way to Paddington. If anyone asks, this weekend didn’t happen.

Tuesday at 4:53pm : Serious question: get a rape alarm yes, but get one that makes a very loud noise like an alarm, or get one that screams like a woman with the volume of a jackhammer?

Tuesday at 6:41pm : I am on my way home and I am armed with a stout umbrella and an empty thermos. Look out!

Wednesday at 8:17pm : This has been the most horribly dramatic week: police stabbings; nearby rapes; bar-room brawls; broken windows; ingenious bag theft; and now a mysterious moaning and crying rugby-shirted (in this weather?) Indian man (I think it was Gujarati?) on my train who jumped off at Liphook before he could be asked if he was alright.
I fear ’tis the end of days.

Thursday at 8.57pm : My train is cancelled. All the other trains are late. Not entirely sure I’ll be getting home tonight.

Thursday at 9.35pm : Not getting home. Some poor bugger went under a train at Liss at 5.30. Then another poor bugger went under a train at Portsmouth at 8.

F*** me. When they said Jan 16th was the most depressing week of the year they were a week out.

(Thanks to the SWTrains helpline man, who also wasn’t getting home tonight, for actually telling me what had happened after National Rail Enquiries told me gibberish, possibly even all the way from India. Thanks  to him for advising that I should go stay with a friend rather than waiting and possibly being stranded at the station, and my lovely colleague for putting me up at the last minute.)

Friday at 8.08am : Yes, it wasn’t their fault, but, after having been stranded overnight in Petersfield, SW trains wouldn’t honour yesterday’s return ticket, but made me buy a new ticket and fill out an ‘Application’ for a refund. It was that or rely on the pity of the ticket inspector on each train, who was, apparently, ‘in charge’ (“I can’t tell the ticket inspector what to do now, can I ?!” said *the man selling the tickets*‘)

When this happened in Bristol, they gave me a ticket gratis.
Ergo, Bristol > Petersfield.

They’re both SWTrains.

Friday at 10.30am: So the refund form I got in Petersfield is no good at Brentford. Brentford want me to fill in a complaint form. Petersfield said I didn’t need to. The man at Brentford is apparently now ‘in charge’.

Much confusion. I ask if he can call Petersfield. “That would be impossible”. I add the form to my pile and fill it out. I am eyeballed. He seems cross at Petersfield, and doesn’t seem to care that they dealt well in a difficult situation.

After officiously taking back the stapler to show me how to do it (there’s a ‘special way’, apparently, to staple tickets to a form), the man shows me how then to put all my tickets in the envelope. Apparently I need to send the form myself now. Petersfield said I didn’t have to do that.

‘Fine’, I say, ‘now please give me the postage.’

He finally agrees to send it for me. Petersfield said he’d do that. 😉

Then I take out last week’s delayed-train claim tickets. ‘I think I’ll have another envelope please…’

(I feel like a bad person. But, I would have sent last week’s delayed-train claim tickets back last week…if Petersfield hadn’t run out of complaint forms. )

This has been a terribly horrible week for a lot of people, and really only just a bit worrying and trying for me. My heart goes out to those who were seriously affected by the serious stories above. My rail dramas pale in comparison – all I had to deal with was a long, cold sit at the station and a night on a floor, I just hate that it’s normal for commuters to get the pointy end of the whippy stick on a regular basis. Thanks to those in the ‘passenger industry’ who do actually help, and probably have to deal with weeks like this on a regular basis.

I hope this week’s a one-off. If the world does end though, don’t say I didn’t warn you. By my reckoning, it’ll be Saturday, so keep an eye out. I won’t be leaving the house.

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