I read with interest Adrian Kennard’s blog post about late nights in London. If he thinks he’s got it bad, he should try living in Oxford – which is, as I once remarked, “just far enough from London to be annoying”.
For sure, you might think, as a resident of Oxford, that you can dash down to London, see a play, and be home and tucked up in time to go to work in the morning. But can you? Almost invariably, the last fast train back from Paddington turns out to be just too early to be useful. And the last slow train takes the best part of 2 hours. You know you’re out too late when the conductor announces “this is Radley, but the platform has no lights, so don’t break your neck as you step off”. Incidentally, Paddington is probably not the place in London you wanted to be, so add 30 minutes on the tube to your calculations. Oh, and it stops far too early to be useful as well.
In theory, the Oxford Tube and the Oxford Express ought to be solutions to this problem – they run 24 hours, and they terminate slightly closer to my Jericho HQ than the railway station. In practice, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been stood on Buckingham Palace Road or Baker Street waiting in vain for the scheduled coach to turn up. Even late at night, they take distressingly close to 90 minutes door to door, so not much better than the train – and early in the evening, the rush hour makes them too unpredictable.
The closest to a good solution I’ve found is the train down and the coach back, but the ticket prices don’t make that very economic.
There is a solution, if somewhat radical, which an increasingly large number of my friends have been trying lately – namely, moving to London – but I can’t bring myself to go to such lengths. Yet.