Regular readers may recall the occasion when I travelled back to Hull late one evening, only to discover after the train had set off that there was no food on board and then for the train to be stuck near Grantham for several hours because of points failure near Newark – I got home about 4.00 a.m.
Last night, I had another eventful journey – the train caught fire. The Hull Trains service pulled into Retford station on time. There was then an annoucement for all passengers to leave immediately and assemble on the platform. After some time, with staff rushing back and forth, we were told there had been a fire under a carriage and, although now extinguished, they were waiting for the fire brigade (which duly arrived). My main concern was that I was on the platform and my briefcase and other material were still on the train. Eventually, we were allowed back on board to collect our luggage and then return to the platform.
The train was clearly not going anywhere. Eventually, we had to catch an East Coast service travelling south to London – it made an unscheduled stop to pick us up – and get off at Newark and then join a northbound East Coast service and get off at Doncaster! (A northbound service could not stop at Retford because the Hull train was blocking the platform.) Coaches were waiting at Doncaster to take us to Hull. We got back at 1.00 a.m. which was only two hours later than scheduled, something of an improvement on the earlier eventful journey.
It was only when I was stood on the platform at Retford that I discovered how many people there were on the train (or rather not on it at that point) that I knew (some of my students, academic colleagues, an MP), so the time passed in conversation. I did make the point that it was fortunate that the problem occurred while we were in a station.
Oh yes, and on the coach journey, some files started falling out of one of my bags that was in the luggage rack – fortunately without hitting anyone (at least I don’t think they did) – and then this morning, after parking my car, my car key disappeared (eventually discovered it had gone through a hole in the lining of my jacket pocket – though it took a little time to discover that fact). Anyway, did I mention that I met the Queen on Tuesday?