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The Early Morning Train with Fred West

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 13 May 2013

I would rather not have arrived at Moreton last Thursday at 11.30 PM. But there is always a thrill in being on a train on a warm but blacked out summers night as it hurtles through the countryside. Let down the window between the carriages and some cooler air rushes in as you speed along. But this morning it is the 4.47 from Bristol, the first train of the day and the only one before 8.30 where you avoid paying the GDP of Guatemala as your fare.

As we speed past Swindon and up towards the capital no-one outside the train seems awake. The sun is just starting to appear but still you cannot see the detail on buildings or on trees – they appear in start silhouette only. The street lamps are still turned on and the, largely empty, train is the only noise in town.

Having a whole bank of four seats and a table to myself is a rare treat. My partner is not so keen on me taking this train as it involves a 3.30 alarm call, something that in deluded lefty world is hard to imagine. I gather that it is a breach of her human rights under some European treaty. But I love this train. The shock of a 3.30 alarm call, a hasty shower and 10 minutes with an opinionated cabbie is not a great start to the day.  But thereafter the space to work, think and stretch your legs is a rare treat on Great First Western. And the English countryside at this time of day, before it is invaded by cars and populated by people is a delightful distraction from my laptop and the acres of train space I currently enjoy.

As we approach Didcot the fields are now clearly green as the Sun emerges from behind a cloud. Less than an hour to the hell hole that is London.

Incidentally the ticket collector bears a remarkable resemblance to the late Fred West. He sounds as if he might be from Gloucestershire. Would it be impolite to ask if they were related by any chance? I suspect that it would be and shall keep that thought to myself.

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About Tom Winnifrith
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Tom Winnifrith is the editor of TomWinnifrith.com. When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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