Euston station hasn't changed much. It wasn't that long ago that I was there quite often, spending around one early morning a week traipsing my way across London to take an early train to Manchester, only to join the tail end of the Manchester rush hour to take a local train out to Guide Bridge. Those were the days. I speak as though it were a long time ago, when it was only 2011. How quickly things fade into nostalgia.
Before heading out of London this morning, I popped to the local shop to pick up the obligatory copy of the Guardian. Standing in front of the chocolate bars was a woman wearing a cigarette vending machine around her neck. She looked quite bored. Well I'm sure it wasn't a thrilling occupation. The guys in the shop made no reference to her, and all of the customers walked past her as though she weren't there. I still have no idea what she was doing there.
It's funny how a train journey which takes two hours from London can seem like an undertaking worthy of buying pads of paper and books and staying overnight at the other end, whereas two hours from home in London would only take us out to somewhere in the Western reaches of London - we wouldn't even expect there to be a toilet on the train if we were doing that journey.
Talking of toilets (don't worry, this isn't going anywhere unpleasant) we were sitting relatively close to the toilet on the train up here yesterday (really don't worry, it's really not going anywhere unpleasant!). Many times throughout the journey we heard the apologies coming from inside the toilet when someone had accidentally opened the door on someone else. Either the toilet door was broken or people kept forgetting to lock the door. Interestingly, the apology always came from the person who was in the toilet rather than the person who had erroneously opened the door. Seems like the right way around actually.
Today, we had the joys of a visit to Birkenhead. I remember going to Birkenhead as a kid – it never seemed as run down then as it does now, but maybe that’s the passage of time and the rose tint which gets applied as memories turn into nostalgia. These days, it’s mostly shops selling cheap sportswear to people who never set foot inside a gym and an alarming number of shops where every item is a pound. I’m sure they’re all very useful, but it doesn’t answer the question of where one would actually go to buy anything specific you may need which wasn’t either a multi-pack of white socks or a brand of shampoo you’ve never heard of. It’s a shame, as it used to be nice walking around the shops there.
There is, of course, my favourite coin dealer. I’ve been going to the same coin dealer since I was a kid, and over the years my tastes in what I collect has changed with the increase in disposable income, but it’s still nice to go somewhere and spend ages trawling through a trays of coins looking for interesting things. I was very good today – I did buy something, but I was rather restrained.
This has been rather a flying visit up north, and this evening we’re heading back on a late-evening train back down to London. As I’ve said before, coming up here doesn’t feel like “coming home” anymore. For me, the part of the journey which is “going home” is the part we’ll do this evening when the train pulls out of Lime St and we head south.