Friday, 17 July 2009
27 June. Whitstable.
We left Ipswich just after 10 am on 26th June. I had tried to book in advance but had been unable to find cheaper tickets, so we bought ours from a machine at the station. As usual we saw little of London except that which could be glimpsed through the train windows. We noted the Olympic stadia under construction and the flats where my companion’s sister had once lived. The journey to London was enlivened by a discussion with a professor of art history who regaled us with tales of Walter Benjamin and “The Night of the Long Knives”. The connection should have been simple using the tube to transfer us across London from Liverpool Street to Victoria station. And it was, until we arrived. With only minutes to go we were hunting frantically for the slow train to Whitstable. Its imminent departure was not advertised on any of the many signal boards. My innate shyness was not helping as I consistently avoided asking for assistance. Luckily my companion does not suffer my inhibitions and she soon discovered that Victoria is split into two parts each having its own departure boards, platforms and destinations. On board the train we had a simple meal of noodles and wasabi peas an interesting dish which was simultaneously tasty, unpleasant and strangely addictive. The onward journey was indeed slow as we stopped at very regular intervals at stations with vaguely familiar names. Our approach was marred only by an embarrassing incident with the automatic toilet and my panic when it was announced that the train, like its mother station, would split in two and should we sit in the wrong seat we would end up in Dover rather than Whitstable.