Several times in the past few weeks I have set out - feeling exactly as Scott did when he went to the pole. It's still dark and ahead of me lie lonely unmarked and unlit lanes in which, if you have a lively imagination, you might believe are ghost-ridden. They do, however, contain badgers and deer who have no respect for cars. Eventually, I reach the station in time to park and board a train, my seat neatly flagged up with my name on it. Such a civilised way to travel, until you are forced to disembark at Reading and pick up a commuter train that is wending its way south to Salisbury before eventually ending up at Victoria. Packed with merrimakers off to celebrate Halloween, bicycles, book-reading commuters, it bumbles along stopping every few minutes to deposit some weary traveller.
I had forgotten this is the way most people live - trundling up and down the steps of Clapham Junction or Redhill. This is the real England, scored by people determinedly making a living. I can't help wishing Beeching had left well alone - it would be so nice to reach the heart of England without quite so much hassle.
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