The Southern Rail Train Strikes – a poem


It’s quarter to eleven
And I’ve just got home. I left the house at seven
This morning, two and half hours before work, in the vague hope
Of finding a train that will take me anywhere near London. But nope,

It’s strike day so here I stand, a sheep in a flock.
I’m bored now. Conductors or no conductors – who cares, they’re all a bunch of cocks.

In a gift from the Gods, I still get a seat.
You’d expect for all this time and money I would consider that a given, and not a fortunate treat.
Today I sat in declassified first-class. Surrounded by the posh bods in their suits and their papers that weren’t free.
But then I bet they don’t get to see
The joy of the Rush Hour Crush. You: dark haired attractive man with a handsome face.
Me: sitting in First Class feeling very out of place.

London Bridge is where we’re due,
We’re already late, and then I have to trek through
The frankly ridiculous new concourse that has just been built.
I tilt
My head and just follow the crowd,
Wandering through unfinished building works, because while we can’t travel unaccompanied on a 30 minute train, it seems that that’s allowed.
The new platforms feel a bit like an airport, with individual boarding gates. Maybe I’ll disappear
And jet off to somewhere that isn’t bloody here.

My normal journey takes 3 stops on the Victoria line.
But from London Bridge, the journey takes twice the time,
Through 10 stations and one interchange. And that’s if I have the attention
To get on the Northern line in the right damn direction.

The commute home is worse. Today it’s a power failure at Forest Hill
which means I will
Be stuck here for half an hour more. I don’t want to be the one that cries
But there’s not even a McDonalds at this crappy station so I can’t get my usual of a double cheeseburger and medium fries.

My feet hurt. I don’t wanna stand around anymore.
I’ve given up caring if it’s uncouth to just sit on the sodding floor.
I normally laugh. It’s like that episode of Friends you’ve seen a hundred times,
Yet every time you watch, it never fails to surprise.

Today in my bag, I have my MacBook Air.
It’s worth over a grand and completely unnecessary to my daily life but I don’t really care.
There’s also my iPhone, car keys and probably an old lipstick.
Yet the most expensive thing I carry is my Southern rail ticket.

It’s worth more than my first car. Thirty treatments for my hair.
Or more than three more MacBook Airs.

Apparently it’s also worth more than my time at home.
My time alone.
My time in bed. My dates with my girls. The chance to go out for dinner or go to the gym
Or even to entertain the idea of going out with him.

Work closer to home, they say. And I would. I have done.
Three years in locally owned businesses was fun,
But there’s no success in security, and I’ll never get my Audi R8
By staying at home and hanging out with left-over school mates.

Next week we have a work quiz.
Not that I’ll do very well, but in this biz,
It helps to show face and play the games.
Plus I have an aptitude for excellent team names.
But now, my evening will be spent checking my phone
For my cancelled route home.
Leaving the party early to schlep to London Bridge
To stand on a platform and stare at a board with nothing more for company than a Marks and Spencers sandwich.

I can cope with delays. I’ve learned to control my seething,
And I’m lucky my bosses respect my organisational skills more than my time keeping.

But if you had a friend who you had to call
Every minute until they arrived, with fear that they wouldn’t bother turning up at all,
Your only way of getting home
Relying on this one friend who never answers the fucking phone
Who wouldn’t know the word reliability if it hit them like a train,
You’d understand the uncontrollable and insufferable pain
Of commuting to London again and again.

£3,396. For all of this.
A train that’s never there, and when it is, it stinks of piss.

Tonight I got home and sat on my bed,
The “We are sorry to announce” woman still playing round and round my head.
Yes I’ll keep complaining with almost every tweet,
But allow me my rage for dealing with this shit.
So before it all starts again tomorrow, here concludes my tale.
Of lives being ruined by sodding Southern Rail.


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