The picture for Lily is of a 1950's railway carriage print of Blythburgh church in Suffolk. Railway companies put four of them in each compartment, this one's in its original wooden frame. I'm sure she would have enjoyed them on her journeys in the past, but more importantly would have been shown patience, compassion, and that now much mis-used word 'respect'. I hope you got home safely Lily.
Tuesday, 18 March 2008
A Picture for Lily
Lily isn't her real name. In fact I never knew it. She was a lovely old lady (at a guess I would think nearly ninety) who yesterday afternoon got on my London-bound train at Bedford and sat next to me. She had come to Bedford for the funeral of a chap she had helped bring up in care, many years ago. No-one at the station could be bothered to find out where the cemetery was for her, and so, very confused, she decided to return to her tiny flat in Roehampton. Enter the "ticket collector" with a silver ring in his ear. Lily showed her return ticket, except it was the London-Bedford half. She thought she'd given the return half in by mistake at Bedford. She hadn't. After searching fruitlessly in her bag she became distressed, and Silver Ear demanded her credit card. It took at least three attempts at inputting her pin number into a grey lump of plastic he kept thrusting at her. I intervened, and said surely the fact that she had the other half went someway to prove her innocent of fare-dodging, unless she enjoyed going from Putney to Bedford twice in a day, just for a laugh. Finally he was able to relieve her of £21 (she'd already paid £12.90 return). After he'd gone I calmed her down and helped her look for the ticket which she then found. I went in search of Silver Lining and he'd got off at Luton Parkway, so thirty backpackers who'd just got on for St. Pancras never got their tickets checked anyway. At the terminus I took Lily to the ticket office where they shrugged their shoulders and gave her a long form to fill in to get her money back. Doubtless there'll be a box to tick that says "How did we do?". For the record, this is the newly-enfranchised East Midlands Trains, motto "Travel All About You". With illiteracy like that, what can we expect?