Notes at Paddington Station at 4:30am

Categories: Travel
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Published on: November 28, 2006

I was not greeted by any bearsPleasant Bangladeshi taxi driver from Waterloo charged me £18 to go from Brick Lane to Paddington Station.  Somehow this didn’t seem reasonable, but who am I to argue?  The guy likes to travel, but four kids (12, 10, 8, 6 – evenly spaced) so it is too expensive for him.  He did manage to visit Bangladesh regularly though.

The station is deserted, apart from a scattered collection of homeless folk, sleeping in chairs.  Even though the chairs are designed to be uncomfortable to rough sleepers, somewhat like the spikes designed to discourage pigeons from landing on window sills, there they are, in their sad greasy coats, unlaced boots, and matted woolen hats, snoozing in the cold air.

Costa coffee – the guy behind the counter is telling friends that a head waiter in paid £1500 a month at the Ritz.

Heathrow Express – brightly lit and warm but with noisy annoying TV screens showing speeded up footage from the worlds capital cities, and silent infomercials telling of the security precautions at the airport, including the warning that train passengers may be “subject to a search”.

I wish I had taken some photos of these two stark environments.  One supposed to be unwelcoming, yet populated; the other intended to be welcoming, yet somehow tainted with threats of danger, and seats and lighting equally unconducive to sleep.

There is a £2 premium for buying tickets onboard.  Why do they do this?  Penalised for not using a machine.

“Quiet zone – entertainment free carriage” I am told by the infomercial.  “Next time you travel, why not treat yourself to first class – wider seats, complimentary magazines and newspapers, and tables you can work from!”  15 whole minutes of all this luxury for only a premium of £10.

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