A Knight’s Tale (100: Commuting)

The move to Newark heralded nineteen years commuting to Kings Cross in London. Lindum House cost just £10,000 more than we obtained for our semi-detached home in Furzedown, so I increased my mortgage by that figure.

This was very risky because I had only been freelance for a year and had no clients in Nottinghamshire or Lincolnshire. I calculated that, because long term commuting was priced at a lower rate than shorter distances, I could just afford the annual season ticket to London. That covered 120 miles.

The following year British Rail, as it then was, decided to increase the long distance rates by 5% per annum for five years. The season ticket became unaffordable, so I stayed at home on Fridays as I built up a small amount of local work, and bought daily return tickets. At the same time interest rates went through the roof and mortgage repayments soared.

On my first day of travelling by the Intercity train it broke down in the evening and we arrived home four hours late.

A swan had been caught in the braking system which could not be freed. It was necessary to wait for a replacement engine.

As I walked into the house after midnight I thought “what have I done?”

Fortunately there was nothing so disastrous again and I settled into a travelling community.

One activity was the solving of The Times crossword which led to the creation of Mordred, about which there will be more to come. Unfortunately my fellow travellers got the erroneous impression that I knew everything.

There was to be an NSPCC fundraising quiz night in Grantham at which more than 30 teams competed. Two of these were from our commuter crowd who vied for my company. The team who lost that honour won the competition while mine came second. This was quite salutary.