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A bit of coaching

‘Take the National Express,’ sang The Divine Comedy, ‘when your life’s in a mess.’

‘It’ll make you smile.’

In 2017, my life was in a temporary mess due to train disruption between Newcastle and Leeds, when I needed to get to a meeting. I paid the princely sum of £4.00 for the privilege of a 2 hour and 40 minute odyssey via Sunderland and Middlesbrough.

Yesterday, thanks to industrial action on the railways, I paid £16.30 to do the same journey in reverse.

Few would relish spending the better part of three hours on a mildly nauseating coach, especially when a train will normally do it in half the time. The ticket for the cancelled train cost only £19.20, so even the price advantage seems minimal these days, at least on this route and on this day. On a train, there are no signs exhorting you to tip the driver, and nor does one feel a mild sense of guilt for failing to do so (who carries cash these days?)

But the coach is fine. I’d happily pay twice over for someone else to drive me up the A1(M) instead of having to navigate it myself in the dark and the rain. It even means I can have a glass of wine with dinner. Throw in a reasonably comfy seat, a charging socket and some free Wi-Fi and who can argue? The coach was also reasonably to timetable on both occasions.

It wouldn’t be my first choice, but on both occasions, it got me out of a hole. The Divine Comedy were right: it did make me smile.

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