The 10:12 from Clapham Junction

Many times I’ve travelled on the 10:12 from Clapham Junction towards Southampton.

In the last year of my mum’s life, when I had become fed up with the drive, I would catch this train to visit her in her care home. I’ve also used it to carry on beyond Southampton to Brockenhurst and eventually Lymington, one of my very favourite places. From Lymington you can walk or catch the little ferry to Hurst Castle, you can walk around the coastal path, and you can catch the larger ferry to the Isle of Wight. I love ferries, large and small.

Over the past 12 months I’ve also caught the 10:12 in order to reach the starting points of the four sections of the Itchen Way walk – Southampton, Eastleigh, Winchester (twice).

On most of these train trips, I’ve bought a coffee and KitKat from the on-board trolley service (I’m a creature of habit), and on most of these times I’ve been served by the same East-European lady with the lovely smile. And though I remember her, she probably doesn’t remember me.

On Tuesday I set off to start the last leg of the Itchen Way walk. I was standing on the Clapham Junction platform, waiting for the 10:12, when an express, non-stopping train shot past, but with its hooter blaring. The next thing I know is that station staff are active, moving waiting passengers away from the platforms. Someone had jumped under the express train. Chaos followed as trains were suspended in order to deal with the emergency. I abandoned any thoughts of doing my walk. Two days later I tried again, this time without incident.

I guess that forever, when standing waiting for the 10:12, I’ll spare a thought as the express train shoots through, for the person who had had enough.

Terrible news

We were on our way for a walk along the Thames when a phone call brought the terrible news of an ex-colleague’s death. She had taken over my role when I retired. She wasn’t sure whether she was up to it and I also had my doubts – it was a sometimes technical role. But she accepted the position, and despite requiring my help every once in a while for the first couple of years – I don’t think she ever really mastered database queries – she was a success in the post. She was always bubbly and cheerful, which makes her taking her life all the more shocking and hard to comprehend. Things change, but I wish I could turn back the clock.

In the centre of this picture, taken today, is a branch of Strada where two or three times we met in a reunion of the team. A colourless image seems appropriate on this very sad day.

Ricky Jay

The American actor and magician, Ricky Jay, has died.


In one of my favourite films, Things Change, Ricky Jay has a small part with some memorable David Mamet lines. The film opens as follows:

Shoe-shop owner: “May I help you?”
Silver (Ricky Jay): “A friend of ours would like to speak to you this evening.”
Shoe-shop owner: “I just shine shoes.”
Silver (Ricky Jay): “There’ll be shoes there.”