A grand day out

I went to Fulham to watch Spurs yesterday. I wish I hadn’t. It was the kind of day which made me question my sanity and seriously consider whether I am wasting large parts of my life. 

The trip to Fulham is one of the easier journeys from where I live in south east London. I checked the train times on the web and, having seen there were no works scheduled, set off at lunchtime. At Crystal Palace I waited for half an hour on the platform where the Clapham Junction service was signposted as leaving from. All was still and quiet, until another passenger went off to see what was happening. It turned out that the trains were going from a platform at the other side of the station. No member of staff had thought to make this clear, or to tell the gathering crowd of people on the platform that we were in the wrong place.

At Clapham Junction, I arrived at the Putney platform to find it was closed due to scheduled engineering work. That’s the scheduled engineering work the train company did not think it was worth mentioning on the website customers use to plan our journeys. I mentioned this, politely, to the staff member I found after a few minutes of searching and he looked at me as if I’d suggested doing something very rude to one of his close relatives. He then directed me out of the wrong exit to get on the bus replacement service. It’s this level of efficiency and customer service that has made our transport system the envy of the world. I reflected, as I stared into the armpit of the bloke I was crushed against on a packed bus edging through the traffic, that the same people who make travelling anywhere in the UK such a wonderful experience would still be in charge of the much talked-up transport links at the Stratford Stadium – should the club succeed in moving there.

I managed to meet the friends I’d arranged to meet in one of our favourite away game pre-match drinking holes, and a pleasant lunchtime was had all round. In a very unscientific straw poll, there was no support whatsoever for moving to Stratford. That small minority gets about, for sure.

The well-used observation about a good day out spoiled by football was apt again. Spurs turned in a performance of such staggering ineptness it’s difficult to remember seeing a worse one. The support, as usual, was fantastic – although there was a bit of an ugly atmosphere out the back of the away stand at half time as arguments broke out between different factions. But, despite the desperate spectacle we were confronted with in the second half, the support remained loud and there was plenty of humour – albeit of the gallows variety.

After the game I ended up staying a little too long talking nonsense in the pub, so it was gone 9pm by the time I got to Clapham Junction. There, I found that there were no trains back home because, of course, no one is supposed to travel at the weekend after about 6pm. The Egyptian government should bring in the people who ‘run’ our transport system, as with them in charge it would be a cinch to enforce the curfew, and indeed bring the entire country to a standstill.

So, I arrived home bad-tempered and a hefty cab fare lighter. Listening to manager Harry Redknapp saying the appalling display was down to the fact that we apparently don’t have enough players did little to improve my mood. But I should know better than to pay much attention to what managers say to the press. In fact, I should really know better than to put myself through this. I could, and should, have been doing something much more useful such as joining the UK Uncut protests.

Now that’s all off my chest, on with the week.

Contact me at martincloake@mac.com

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