Saturday 24 September 2016

The Saturday List #98 - Ten most memorable things I've seen at London Railway Stations!

I travel by train every day. This week I saw something rather strange on my journey. It caused me to reflect on the strange things I've seen at Railway Stations.
Image result for hawker Harrier at St Pancras
Harrier at St Pancras

1. A Hawker Harrier jump jet landing at St Pancras Station in 1969! (for The Daily Mail Great Air Race - ) - My dad took me to see the event as a special treat.

The event happened when I was nine. I was obsessed with trains and planes and this was perhaps the happiest day of my life. We rounded it off with an ice cream. What could be better in life!

2. Two men taking a piano onto a train at Hendon station. This was pre the electric train service, probably about 1979. The old DMU's had a guard van area, where the piano was loaded into. The train was heading north.

3. A steam engine on the Underground at Baker St. I was awaiting a tube train last year and a steam engine chugged through, with a train full of people. I knew these excursions occurred sometimes, but as I was simply getting a train, it was quite a surprise. So much so I didn't even get a picture!

4. The Royal Train passing through Mill Hill Broadway in the early 1980's. I arrived to catch a train and found that there were a whole bunch of enthusiasts at the station. The train had very pretty carriages, but was pulled by a fairly ordinary diesel engine. I thought it was a bit of an anto climax.

5. I found myself in the early 1980's in the queue for a ticket at Paddington station between Mick Jones of The Clash and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Sadly it was in the days before selfies. Mick Jones is a bit of a hero of mine and he'd just left the Clash. I plucked up the courage and said "Hi Mick, you getting anything going?" He was really friendly and said "Yeah, doing some stuff with  Don (Letts)". He then said "You know I hope theres a buffet car on the train, I really need a tea" Sadly the Bish didn't join in.

6. I was picking up the train from St Pancras. There was a pair of buskers outside. The bloke was playing guitar and was quite good so I missed the girl next to him with a huge python. I am really phobic of snakes and nearly had a heart attack.

7. I arrived at St Pancras once (before it was Eurostar terminal) to find a set of Russian carriages in the platform. I was quite intrigued. I looked closer and realised they we BR carriages dressed to look like Russian carriages. They were actually being used in a film and the station was meant to be in the USSR. I am pretty sure it was a Bond film.

8. I was waiting in Blackfriars station on the River, when the Royal Barge passed underneath. I assumed it was a rehearsal for the Queens Flotilla pageant. It was rather spectacular.

9. I was at Euston Station once when a train of Manchester United supporters and a train of Wolves supporters arrived at the same time and the station turned into a riot. I was having a cup of tea at the Travellers Fayre and the Police were just walking around bashing everyone under the age of about 40. My Dad had advised me that if ever I was in a pub and there was a fight and the Police came in, to stay sitting down as they wouldn't bash you. It worked a treat. What was even more interesting was all the trouble stopped as soon as it started. My strongest memory was a rather snooty Margaret Thatcher type, turning to her rather snooty husband and saying "Bloody football hooligans, they should ban it". I later heard a Policeman saying that British Rail had sent the Wolves supporters train to the wrong platform and it wasn't meant to be let in until the Man U fans had gone. It rather reinforced my view that football hooliganism could be avoided by proper planning.

10. I'd been out for a night out in London and I got to St Pancras and decided to have a beer in the pub on the station concourse, to steel me for the journey. The bar was stuffed full of transvestites who were making their way back to Leicester and Nottingham (as I recall) following Pride. They were all having a raucous sing song. It was absolutely hilarious and I think everyone missed their train, and ended up having a couple more pints. As a committed people watcher, it was fascinating to observe the behaviour of people entering the bar. Some just turned around and headed straight out, others sat uncomfortably in the corners, but most people joined in the spirit and it turned into an impromptu party. Perhaps the thing which surprised me most was whilst I was queuing for a beer, one of the ringleaders of the choir said to me "My wife is going to be bloody furious at me being late home pissed as a fart". It reminded me that when we sterotype people we usually are way off the mark.

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