The secret escalator at King’s Cross.

As I’ve posted once or twice, the new look King’s Cross draws ever nearer. We get glimpses of new bits, then curiously they erect tarpaulins to keep it from us. As Patrick Stewart said in Extras, “It’s too late of course, because I’ve seen everything.”

One corner that’s been forgotten about is in the Northern ticket hall. Away from the ticket machines, booths and barriers there’s a section, er…sectioned off by hoardings the same colour as the surrounding walls. Closer inspection reveals a notice pertaining to escalators. Take it from me, dear reader, this corner will soon blossom into our escalator up to the brand new concourse – our stairway to heaven/hell (depending on how the trains are that day).

One view.

So, here is your ‘before’ photo and in another post after the big reveal, I shall share the ‘after with you.

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Another view.

Fatality Friday.

I’ll have the militant passenger groups up in arms when I say this, but by and large, the trainsĀ  are pretty reliable.

Last week was a bad one, but even though it impacts on my life and affects whether I get to see my kids before bedtime, I can still sympathise.

Monday was a little tenuous. It was too hot – the wrong kind of heat, or perhaps a ‘temperature-related incident’ to use the public announcement vernacular.

Tuesday was unfortunate. Lighting struck overhead lines and caused havoc on trains in and out of King’s Cross.

I witnessed an interesting exchange between 2 commuters. One had obviously had a shit day, the other, not quite so bad. The former insisted that this sort of delay occurred every day, quoting his annual rail card cost for us all to compare with our own.

The other guy insisted that this was the first delay he’d encountered this year. Both were astounded by their counterpart’s argument – though it didn’t escalate from incredulity to abuse or fisticuffs.

The truth lay somewhere in between but neither was in the mood to concede any ground.

Wednesday and Thursday: no problems to report.

So, Friday. When you arrive at King’s Cross you expect to see a scrum on the concourse, but you have a benchmark size in your head and the size of Friday’s scrum was a sure sign that something was awry.

So I sat on a train for nearly an hour without going anywhere. Only after 45 minutes was there any information as to why we weren’t moving – a person struck by a train.

In that moment we’re all wrapped up in our own issues: I’m going to be late. And if you give it any thought at all, the optimist in us all hopes for the best. They didn’t say ‘fatality’ but if you think about it for any length of time, not many people get hit by a train and live to tell the tale.

Alexandra Palace.

So with a combination of crawling and stopping completely, we made it as far as Alexandra Palace. And there it was next to the 20 or so police in hi-vis vests on the platform, the body bag. Occupied.

I looked around the carriage to see if anyone else had noticed. Some were reading the paper, others were following Andy Murray’s semi-final defeat to Nadal. Nobody, it seemed, had the look of someone who’d just seen a corpse in a zip-loc bag.

I saw a dead cat by the side of the road this morning. I hope these things don’t come in threes.

A couple of inches makes all the difference.

East Coast Trains. Aside from my wi-fi beef, they’re alright by me. And if you can snag seats 75 or 76 (in any coach, I guess, though I’m currently in coach C) they’re even better.

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To look at, the difference is imperceptible, but when you sit down, you can really feel it: glorious extra inches of legroom.

Bear it in mind – especially if you’re reserving a seat online.

That is all.

Staying in Frankfurt.

There’s been a period of silence on this blog, partly because I’ve been away on a short business trip in Frankfurt.

So what’s it like? Here are 5 things you need to know about Frankfurt:

1. Their taxis are beige. Almost exclusively Renault and Mercedes.

Ein taxi, as they say round these parts.

Ein taxi, as they say round these parts.

2. The people are extremely welcoming and courteous. And their English is better than mine.

Evidence of someone from Frankfurt being welcoming.

Evidence of someone from Frankfurt being welcoming.

3. The city itself (the fraction that I saw for myself) looks very drab. Possibly the Allies’ fault for flattening it in the war. Possibly a harsh and uninformed opinion. But none of the Frankfurters I spoke to rushed to its defence either (verbally speaking – which of course is the best sort of speaking).

Frankfurt perhaps at its best - blurred and at night.

Frankfurt perhaps at its best - blurred and at night.

4. Frankfurt International Airport is the European hub for Lufhansa. It is not an insubstantial airport. But the the terminal we were in had 60 gates, all served by a single sandwich bar. That’s about a fifth of a cheese sanger between all of them. I fly to Nimes 2 or 3 times a year. The airport there is little more than a golf clubhouse with an x-ray machine. It has 2 places to eat. I rest my wheelie case.

A view from the only food outlet available to me.

A view from the only food outlet available to me.

5. It has trams. Lot of trams. And most of them seemed to pass about 15 feet from my colleague’s hotel window. Very early in the morning.

Tram with hotel and colleague's room in background.

Tram with colleague's hotel room in background.

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