And my blood ran cold: the Rail Replacement Service

16/08/2010 at 4:56 am (Transport) (, , )

Public transport is my primary way of getting around. I accept that it is a mixed bag of people that range from the delightful to the undesirable. Over the last couple of months I’ve mainly travelled from my Berkshire base to London, and have – as a rule – had an okay travelling experience.

Yesterday, Sunday, I realised that I’d been having it easy too often. Getting into Reading I began to fear the worst. Half of the platforms were closed. This meant one thing. The rail replacement coach service.


Like an Alanis Morissette lyric waiting to happen, you only get to experience this extended sojourn through the dusky A roads of Britain when you’re at your most tired. Somehow, the seats seem smaller. Every passenger sounds louder. And there’s a radio.

Not a problem, I could handle this one. I had my iPod, I had my phone. Both had plenty of charge and I would be fine. Oh, but for one fellow traveller. There wasn’t actually anything particularly bad about this guy really, I suppose. It might seem a little like a double standard on my part, as I like a drink, but this guy was blitzed.

Pulling out a bottle of white wine from his holdall, he kindly offered me a swig. I refused. I’m not a fan of white wine, I wasn’t in a party mood, and a journey that’s been prolonged by twice the time it should be isn’t good for the bladder. Even after theatrically wiping the end of the bottle to clean off his spittle it didn’t entice me.

The coach journey continued, and he continued to talk to me. I nodded agreement several times, making positive noises. I had no idea of what he was talking about at all. Being polite, I turned my iPod off. Surreptitiously tweeting now and again I was able to share my burden and maintain my sanity.

The radio carried on its jaunty tunes, with “I Want To Break Free” in particular starting a mumbled, yet loud, singalong. At some point, perhaps aware he was beginning to outstay his welcome, this fella swapped places with his fiancée. I didn’t think this was so bad, as she clearly wasn’t nearly as pole-axed as her beau.

As we trundled into the sunset, she said, “I think the man I was sitting next to is a terrorist.” Interesting opening gambit of conversation. She continued, “he’s got cables going everywhere, one to a phone and one to some other stuff.” Well, I asked the obvious question. “Do you think it likely that a terrorist would target the 20.00 to Bedwyn?” She agreed it might be preposterous.

I made it home safe, obviously, but I do so very hate the replacement coach service. What worries me more, is that I may be that drunk mess next to you someday. If I am, pop your earphones in and ignore me – I won’t be offended.



  1. AngelusK said,

    I don’t see you as the kind of person who can even get into that condition; you strike me as someone who remains at least reasonably cogent and self-aware even under a fair amount of influence lol. Your erstwhile travelling companion appears more a victim of chronically-induced brain-rot… He wasn’t Scottish*, by any chance…?

    *Disclaimer – Ah’m a Weedgie bampot mursel’. But we do have a reputation to uphold.

    • peacockpete said,

      Haha – “Ah’m a Weedgie bampot mursel” Scots 101

      I *have* been in that position in the past, but as a rule, I do try and stay as compos mentis as possible. I just get quite excitable, but am able to form most words. As I talk a lot of rubbish when sober, I can probably get away with it more. Actually, not to pander to a stereotype, he did say he was half Scottish and half Irish, when I asked him if he’d been having a good time.

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