Local man, Martin Shuttlecock, was today recovering at home following a harrowing ordeal as he prepared for the Christmas holiday from work by arranging for a colleague to drop him off at a station close to his workplace after his final day at work, but yet, strangely out in the middle of nowhere.
Expecting to catch the 19:04 train bound for Portsmouth and Southsea, Shuttlecock purchased a train ticket from a machine and hurriedly smoked a cigarette, expecting to be whisked homeward in a very short time.
Shuttlecock recalls smiling contendedly as he heard the bray of a pony from a frosty neighbouring field, but for this simple man, delight quickly degenerated into a feeling of abject horror, as he cast a careless glance at the electronic information board, which revealed that the train he had been expecting at 19:04 was not due to arrive until 19:58.
A delay of 54 minutes, caused by a broken down earlier train at Bursledon.
Which left Shuttlecock in something of a dilemma. The cold was bitter, the wind bit with the ferocity of a great white shark, and he had quite a lengthy time to endure on an isolated, unmanned station with no shelter other than some kind of bus shelter like construction whose windows had long ago fallen victim to the slings and arrows of the outrageously fortunate local vandalry. Essentially, there was no glass, just an empty network of spiderwebbed frames.
Shuttlecock considered walking back in the direction from whence he came, where a warm hostelry would probably have welcomed his patronage, but a change in circumstance gave him pause for thought. The electronic information board changed, in order to signify that the 19:04 would actually be arriving at 19:57, and not 19:58, as originally stated. The hostelry in question was a ten to fifteen minute walk away, at a brisk clip, and the same back to catch the errant 19:04 at 19:57, leaving a sum total (on average) of about 29 minutes in the pub. Shuttlecock later explained his decision to remain in situ was based on the fact that the lateness of the train had been reduced by a minute, so that theoretically, that time could be reduced even further.
So Shuttlecock elected to stay put, which proved to be - at the very least - a fateful decision.
As a stiff, freezing wind blew up, Shuttlecock recalled how he'd spent a night earlier in the year outside London's Waterloo station nursing a broken thumb and a gashed eyebrow, and realised that his hands were rapidly growing numb, and the injured thumb was starting to throb quite painfully.
Pulling on a pair of thermally insulated gloves, Shuttlecock began to pace up and down the deserted platform, pausing only to glance around as two police cars with sirens screaming passed by the station. He reasoned that it was probably just as well that he hadn't taken the option of going to the pub after all. Maybe some of the locals had 'kicked off' over a game of pool or darts or something.
Then at 19:28, redemption seemed to appear, as a passing train sped through the station in Shuttlecock's direction of travel, but it did not stop to pick up the rapidly freezing lone potential passenger.
Shuttlecock revealed that, with his heart bursting with hope, his thumb throbbing, and his knees freezing up arthritically; he still hoped to be able to catch a train to get him home by 20:30
At 19:40, a second train sped through the station, completely ignoring Shuttlecock as it breezed swiftly by.
With the cold taking its toll, a desperate Shuttlecock took to pacing up and down the station approach, which is really a cracked footpath.
Then, as the cold really started to sink into Shuttlecock's bones, came the bombshell from the electronic information board, that the 19:04 to Portsmouth and Southsea had been cancelled, and that the next train would be the 20:04.
Shuttlecock himself takes up the story:
"I was frozen bleedin' rigid. I couldn't understand why they'd sent two trains right past me, and left me freezing me knackers off in the middle of nowhere. Then a tannoy announcement reminded me that I couldn't smoke on the station. I thought, 'you can fuck right off' and promptly lit a fag up. I'm not being fucking dictated to by South-West Trains. But then the bastards - and I'm sure they did it just to spite me because they caught me on CCTV - announced that the fucking 20:04 was running seven minutes late. Then eleven minutes, then nineteen minutes...and to cap it all, some cunt came on the tannoy wishing me a merry Christmas and a prosperous new year. The cheeky fuckers. I lost it at that point and shouted 'Fuck off!' at the tannoy speaker. I don't think they heard me though. The train eventually arrived at twenty three minutes past eight, and when I got on it I was having shivering fits. I was so cold. I took me gloves off and me damaged thumb appeared to turning black. I thought I had frostbite - honestly, I did. I eventually got home at a few minutes to nine, but it took me hours to thaw out. South West Trains - I've fucking shit 'em."
We were unable to contact South West Trains for a response to Shuttlecock's damning indictment, but a spokesman would probably have pointed out that it was a matter of logistics, and that a single customer at an unmanned halt in the middle of nowhere would simply have to eat shit for the greater good.*
More as we get it.
*Footnote - Recent information leaked to Skoob News by Martin Shuttlecock, in the manner of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, reveals that his long suffering wife, Anne, has unfortunately contracted the swine flu H1-N1 virus, but that she is coping with her condition in a manful manner. Shuttlecock admits that he has extended little consideration to Anne's predicament, because when he had swine flu last December she just took the piss mercilessly.