Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Sitting in Swansea

It's 4 AM and I'm sitting in the waiting room of the Swansea station. A train to Bristol has just pulled out of the station, gloating at me. I'm going to Bristol too, but only at 6.30 AM. My ticket to go to Bristol is for the 6.28 AM train, not the 03.50 one. Why? Because the 6.28 ticket was cheaper. It seemed logical at the time – a few hours of my life for a few pounds was a good exchange. But I didn't reckon with the fact that the train would gloat. Putting up with that gloating made me wish that I'd just forked out the couple of quid extra.

The waiting room is deserted. I find it strange that no one is sitting here. Is the waiting room of Swansea not the 'place to be' at 4 AM on a Wednesday morning? No? I wonder where people are, and what they're doing. I even had a look outside, and saw no-one. The shops and caf├ęs were closed; the houses were dark; and there weren't even officials at the station. You'd think that everyone was sleeping, or something.

Luckily I have my luggage and technology to keep me company. And a power point (no, not that piece of Micro$oft software that allows one to create instruments of torture, now outlawed by the Geneva convention – I mean a plug socket). And a heater. But no WiFi – it's amazing how much of the warmth I'd sacrifice for WiFi: perhaps we really do need to reconstruct Maslow's hierarchy of needs, putting WiFi at the bottom, below food and shelter.

I wonder if anyone will ever notice that I came into UK territory without having my visa or even my passport checked. I thought Irish passport control was relaxed: the official on the way in asked me how long I was staying and when I was leaving, and then wrote that date plus a generous several days into my passport with a ballpoint pen. But the UK police desks at the ferry port were empty – one uniformed person showed us where to find our luggage, and then we simply walked through, onto the station, and into Wales. I almost feel cheated, considering how much time, effort, and money went into acquiring a UK visa.

Oh dear. They make long announcements here in Welsh. Now I know why everyone else is avoiding it. Does every word in Welsh begin with a strange “sSshhch” sound that brings Sid the Sloth from Ice Age to mind?

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