On Saturday, 19th May, I left Kendal in Cumbria, and nearly got to the Blogger’s Bash in London….
Barbara, one of our Silent Eye colleagues, had stayed overnight with us so that we could catch an early-ish train. Bernie drove us to catch the 08:30 departure to London from our local Oxenholme, Lake District station. The day was perfect – with hot sun and blue skies forecast for its duration. Barbara is new to blogging, and very much wanted to be there to meet the world she wants to join. I had promised her that there would be many encouraging folk present to help her take that first step into new technologies.
There were two minor complications: the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was taking place in Windsor, west of London; and the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Chelsea was taking place at Wembley… There were several friends who said we were plain crazy trying to do this, but we’ve always done our best to support the Blogger’s Bash, created by Sacha Black and her team some years ago. Blogging is an important part of what we do, individually and as the Silent Eye.
The first hint of chaos came when we boarded the train. A large group of friendly, but, shall we say, celebratory, football fans had reorganised the seating – not physically, as in moved the train’s furniture, but ‘logically’ as in who was sitting where… Our reserved seats had been subsumed into a general melé of noisy but friendly banter. We persevered, eventually finding a pair of seats in a quieter part of the train.
So far so good…. We arrived, on time, at London’s Euston Station, as did about a million other travellers.
We had to make our way to Chiswick, where the event was being held at a local pub, the King George IV, which had a conference room at the rear. Having spent many years working at least two days per week in the City, I am familiar with the tube, at least in its central regions. However, my knowledge of the tube lines out towards the west – and Heathrow, beyond, was limited to straight runs to the airport, itself.
We needed to get to Turnham Green tube station, which is on the Piccadilly Line. Simple enough, said my TfL App, 31 mins and counting:
Fighting the hot crowds, we dutifully changed, at Green Park station, for the Piccadilly Line. It was just after eleven so we knew we would be a bit late, but long-distance allowances would be made…
When we followed the signs down to the Piccadilly Line westbound platform, there was no mention of Turnham Green as a destination on the big board. In desperation, given the time, we asked two people if they could make sense of it, but neither could help us get to the missing station, as they were not native to London and just there for the day or on holiday. Eventually, suppressing a rising sense of panic, we crossed over to the other platform, where there was large map of the whole Tube network. With delight, we located Turnham Green… which was shown as being on the District line!
We dashed back to the westbound platform and fought our way onto a train, figuring that we could switch lines at South Kensington. When we got off at South Ken, we were dismayed to see a large sign saying that all Westbound trains on the District line were cancelled.
(Shades of Hofnung: “at this point I must have lost my presence of mind… for I let go the rope…” – apologies to anyone for whom this means nothing…)
A rotund but helpful member of the TFL platform team directed us back onto the train we had just got off… but which was just leaving, saying, “They’re stopping at Turham Green because of the problems with District.”
In total silence, and now sweating profusely, we boarded the next westbound train, which limped along at about ten miles per hour, presumably due to the congestion and line of damp people considering suicide…
Eventually, we arrived at Turnham Green in splendid sunshine and blue skies with a lifting mood. Asking directions, we spied the main road ahead and knew the venue lay just around the corner.
My companion, Barbara, happened to glance at her watch. It was 12:30. It had taken us two hours on the Tube to get there, and the agenda showed that the Bloggers would be breaking for lunch, to re-convene at 13:45. We looked at each other and picked a wine bar. We have planned on going out for lunch, but it had come to us.
We ate chicken and drank white wine. Towards the end of this revelry, Barbara said that, based on the worst case of the return leg mirroring some of the speed of the outbound, if we worked backwards from the – fixed – time of our return train to Cumbria, we would have to leave at 15:00. That would mean entering the Bloggers Bash late, making our apologies, staying for a mere hour, then making our apologies, again, as we left…
We didn’t… we had some more wine, instead and, despite the wine, the sunshine and the blue skies, looked glum.
We would like to apologise for our proximity and yet lack of attendance. We’ll try not to to do it again.
For anyone who doubts the veracity of this far-fetched tale, I present the receipt for the lunch below…
Our congratulations to all those who:
a. Made it to the Bloggers Bash.
b. Won something.
Stephen Tanham 4B. “Must try harder”
p.s. Our return train was delayed 45 mins at Preston, due to points failure. Bit of a C minus day, really… sigh.