All Night Train

by The What's On blog, with Chris Price Friday, December 3 2010

Devotion to the cause is one thing but snow covered train tracks, nightmarish roads and slippery pathways have made supporting your favourite band like a snowplough clearing a Himalayan avalanche this week.


I have always been a man of my word but the bravado of my previous blog’s “call-to-arms” at Kent’s gig-going fraternity so nearly came crashing down on me.  


The spirit of rock and roll should implore you to support your favourite band no matter the obstruction or journey time” I said from the comfort of my desk chair. Little did I know the frustration I was about to endure, made worse by the feeling of helplessness against the elements. 


I set off to see Arcade Fire at the O2 Arena last night (Thursday, December 2) at about 5pm. I wasn’t too worried about seeing whoever was supporting. The main aim was to meet a mate of mine up there for a few beers and to head in for Arcade Fire a little while before they were due to start at 9pm. What could possibly go wrong?


The train to London Bridge, where I planned to get the tube on the Jubilee Line to the O2, was due to leave at 5.18pm but I accepted there would be a delay. The ticket operator advised the next train should be about 40 minutes despite the snow covered line, pictured.


Two hours and a quarter later I am still waiting for a train to arrive with no hint on when the next one will be. At this point my mate Mark has already made it to the O2 from where he works at Bexleyheath. We are losing valuable drinking time and it looks like I am only just about going to make it for Arcade Fire. A train finally pulls in at 7.30pm.


Okay so I’ll allow double time to get to London Bridge – a 40 minute journey. With the tube that should mean I reach the O2 just in the nick of time for Arcade Fire. Happy days! We’re on again! Or so I thought.


What followed was a one and a half hour journey from Gravesend to Dartford. This normally takes about 10 minutes. The train struggled with the hilly route, unable to draw power from the line. It would travel 100 yards, then go back 50 so it could take a run up to do another 100 yards. At this point I was a broken man.


I called Mark and told him to go home. At this rate I would be lucky to make it to London Bridge by Christmas. He was gutted but understood. I just felt guilty because he had made it there and I was stuck on a train with the tickets.


Then a glimmer of hope. The train was terminating at Dartford but another service was running to London Bridge via Greenwich and rumour had it the line was clear.


As I stepped onto the platform I asked the conductor what the chances were of making it to London tonight was. “This is the only line that has not had a delay on it all day” she said. I felt elation.


“Mark turn around you have to come back mate” I said frantically on the phone. “This train is apparently fine and I reckon I’ll beat Greenwich for 9.30pm.”


And on it went, flying like the wind. Plan A was long out the window and I hopped off at Greenwich and hailed a taxi. At this point Mark had returned with his car and parked up at a nearby Odeon cinema. Bless him – he originally got the bus from work so he could have a beer, then when I told him it was all over he got back on the bus to Bexleyheath only to drive his car all the way back to the O2. We picked him up on the way and pulled up at the arena at 9.55pm.


We legged it to entrance F which was right on the other side of the main entrance. With tickets scanned we hurtled in to find Arcade Fire just as they were about to begin their track The Suburbs. The feeling was amazing. It looked all over but we had made it after a five hour journey. It was close to the feeling I had when Ole Gunnar Solskjær poked in the winner in the 1999 Champions League final for Man Utd in the 93rd minute in a game which had looked out of reach for so long. Close.


And the gig? Worth every travelling minute. Arcade Fire will be a classic stadium rock band, ending their set with Wake Up, a song made for arenas as impressive as the O2. Would I do it again? You bet!

Categories: Communting | Entertainment | Showbiz | snow | Southeastern

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