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I Thought You Were Changing at Crewe...?

Posted on 2005/10/13 23:18:28 (October 2005).

[Thursday 13th October]
Travelled to Mum's today, where I was going to spend my last few days in the UK before returning to Japan.

Dad was going to be working in Manchester, or somewhere like that, which was handy as it meant he could drop me off at Bangor station on the way. So I was up at 7, we left Dad's house by 7:30, and I got a train from Bangor around 9.

There is something deeply evocative about Crewe (a statement I expect you will not hear too often), where I had to change trains half way through my journey. It is hard to put a finger on it. Vera used to say that during the war there was a sort of special stigma about the place, and people really hated going there. Just changing trains there was bad enough, but she had on occasion been billeted there (not sure why, she was a nurse in the Navy), and found it to be the most tedious and unpleasant place she could imagine. Apparently people would rather be sent to the front line than Crewe.

Personally I have nothing against the place, I'm sure it is a perfectly nice town. However, it does seem to have a disproportionately large station - so far as I know it is not a particularly big town, and yet the platform numbers run into double figures. I suppose it is one of those hubs of the rail network, like Reading or Derby.

Having not had breakfast (I can never eat first thing in the morning) I was somewhat assurient by the time I reached Crewe. Naively, I thought I would buy a sandwich. WH Smiths in Crewe station had a range of sandwiches in sort of card containers, slightly reminiscent of the sort you would get in Pret a Manger. I have often thought it is the plastic that makes those evil triangular sandwiches so utterly dire, and therefore in my ignorance assumed they might be better in more appealing packaging. It seems little has changed in the world of ready made sandwiches. They all seem to contain "mayonnaise" still, and despite encouranging labelling talking about free range eggs and organic bread, they are still sprinkling them with that magic chemical that turns them into bitterly disappointing mush. I quite literally wanted to throw it away after the first bite, but thinking of the starving children, and given that stations in Britain still don't have bins anyway, I struggled on bravely and finished it.

I think I can safely award it the trophy for "Crappest Sandwich of the Year 2005". In fact, it is inspired me to write a work of poetry.

I got a really silly little train for the remainder of my journey, just one carriage, a service which seemed to run as a shuttle between Crewe and Skegness, stopping off at lots of towns and cities in the Midlands en route. I spent a short time wondering if anyone actually took the train all the way from Crewe to Skegness, and if so, why? If you were starting at Crewe, you could be in beautiful North Wales in far less time than it would take you to practically cross the country, and arrive at arguably the worst coastal resort in the galaxy. As I often tell myself though, the world is a very complicated place, and there is no accounting for taste.

It was however quite handy that this train stopped at every little halt along the line, as it meant I could get a bit closer to where Mum lives than usual (i.e. Derby) and managed to meet her at Long Eaton.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Did a spot of shopping on the way back to Mum's house, and then spent most of the afternoon on the computer, chatting to Chie, planning all various minutae of details for our movements over the next couple of weeks. Mum made a very nice pasta sort of dinner, after which I watched a bit of telly (something about rainforests in Madagascar) and spent a bit more time on the computer, sorting various odds and ends out.

Comment 1

Yes, Crewe is/was a "hub" of the rail network. Main engineering base like Swindon too I think. My grandfather was something "big" in BR - but not a steam engine!! (oh how I laugh!!!) He actually worked at Derby towards the end of his career.

Yes Skegness is now dire, though I think a hundred years ago it was better. My Dad used to holiday there regularly in the 50's too.

John: your line about Vera being billeted to Crewe, even when in the Navy, read like pure comedy genius to me! Though I know that's not what you meant; it's still a great line though :)

Posted by Nigel at 2005/10/14 19:30:22.

Comment 2

This is pretentious writing for pretentious writing's sake. "Somewhat assurient". Hahahahaha.
Did you really think anyone would be remotely interested in your experience with a sandwich at Crewe? I accidentally stumbled on this page, probably the "crappiest page in the galaxy" and now I will leave quickly. Oh - and gosh you're a doctor too. That really doesn't add any weight or authority to your sandwich drama you know. Goodbye - DOCTOR John.

Posted by Geoff at 2008/06/21 09:19:41.

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