Part 19: Train Company Fat Cats

In rare sentimental moments, when my body is secreting needy-hormones and my bank account echoes with the sound of a lone tumbleweed wafting through its empty virtual space, my commitment to independence has fluttery pulses of self-doubt. I squidge my body into a tight ball under the covers where no monsters can get me. I clutch at a childhood teddy bear with my scarlet painted finger nails. A low wail escapes from my throat, as I envisage unfurling the knotted mass of anxiety and ambition – or whatever it is that burns at my brittle centre – and allowing someone else to shoulder half of my Earthly burdens.

‘ Ahhh yes’, I think, when my brain is softened by memories of oxytocin, ‘a cuddle would be nice, as would resting my weary head on the muscular chest of a kind, strong man who loves me.’ Then the pragmatic part of my psyche chimes in, reminding me that I could also do with someone to pay for half the electric bill (I rent a one-bedroom flat that a dwarf would have trouble swinging a mouse in, I work 12 hour days in the office, I spend at least three months of the year in places other than my home. HOW can my monthly electric cost £75? Someone is taking the definite piss here. Yes, N Power, I do mean you).

Even if I could hold onto the fleeting surges of yearning that reveal I do have a beating human heart underneath the resilient sheets of ice-rock, I have realised there would be little point in finding a lover. You see, the problem with being in a temporary employment position – as I am – is that your life is also temporary. You cannot lay down roots or make firm plans for the months and years ahead. Okay, you do spend quite a lot of time chuntering between cities and towns, meeting people who might be capable of melting your ice-heart, but such people tend to live quite a long way away from you. Or will, in the future live far away from you, when you finally manage to finish your PhD and relocate. That means that if you engage in a relationship that is, or at some point might become, long distance, you shall have to travel to see your beau.

I don’t own a car, due to having no license, due to having no hand eye co-ordination whatsoever (seven of my fifty-odd driving lessons were spent learning to steer), due to being a woman who lives in a crystal studded urban cavern inside her brain, and who rarely peers outside in order to forge a connection with her body. So, unless I can find a lover who can afford to subsidise my wages by moving me into his home, and paying for me to sit on my arse drinking tea, giving myself manicures and blogging, or who drives and doesn’t mind also being my chauffer, I’m a bit buggered.

I’d never be able to see him.

I can’t afford to regularly travel anywhere by train. And there is nothing that is less of an aphrodisiac than going by coach. The chemical toilet smell, the cloying heat and the other unwashed passengers does not a recipe for arousal make.

I hate trains. No, actually I don’t hate trains, I hate train companies. All 28 of them, who I don’t have room to name here but who you can discover the names of by searching ‘UK rail companies’ on google. They are run by evil, money grabbing, neo-capitalist, cretins.

It is specifically these fat, greasy, faceless arseholes, the few rich citizens who profit from running sub-standard, over-priced cattle wagons, whom I despise. I would happily see them dead, with their heads severed and displayed atop spikes along Westminster bridge; their eyes being pecked at by mange-ridden pigeons. I would see them beheaded as symbols of the revolution before I would the bankers – focus of most of the economic-collapse rage – who at least have the decency to act as if they deserve our money, rather than spouting transparent and patronising lies about ‘improvements in service’ and ‘sustained re-investment’.*

Yes, train company fat cats are very much to blame for my failure to find and keep love. And not just because they bring out my bitter-psychotic side. They are greedy, and they are mean, and they rob my money so that I have none to use for visits to fictional long-distance lovers.

In March, when I got stuck on a tube and missed my train from Kings Cross, they, via their policies, made me pay £93.10 of the £110 I had left for food and leisure, for a brand new ‘super off-peak’ single ticket. Yes, £93.10. It would literally be cheaper to drive the same distance, making the concept of train travel as an economic alternative to the car totally redundant.

When my train was delayed in April, and I was given a voucher via the ‘delay repay’ scheme, I discovered I could only use it at a station (not online where tickets tend to be cheaper), and that they don’t give you change if your ticket is less than the voucher’s value. That meant when I used the voucher, I ended up laying out £25.78 for a return ticket from Leeds to Sheffield that should have cost about £12.

Listen, train wankers: a voucher is not a refund. As far as I can work out, Network Rail give you actual money for the delays they cause, due to engineering or signal failures, and you make a massive profit from ticket sales. If my train is delayed, and therefore interferes with my plans for filling the precious hours I have on this Earth, I want to be refunded with wads of that same dirty cash and be given a personal apology, from the CEO, by telephone.

Until such a time that phone call is received, I declare train company fat cats a reason to be single. Unless you can afford to pay for multiple long distance tickets, or have the ability to drive.

*I should definitely point out, for potential legal reasons, that I have no plans to commit rail-exec murder in my lifetime, and that I certainly don’t encourage my readers, should they exist, to do so either. I’m using hyperbole to express my rage. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m a bit pre-menstrual. Anyway, I’m pretty sure it’s legally acceptable to admit you wouldn’t mourn a death, right? No one was asking the Americans to pay tribute to the memory of Osama, and, if I remember correctly, they televised the execution of Sadam so that the sickest among us could celebrate with beer and nachos, while we watched him die.

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