So there I was gazing out across all I could survey in this idyllic place I call home, when my appointed journey planner suddenly asked if I was going somewhere. Well, I said in contemplative mood, to go somewhere you need to be sure about something and saddle up a means of somehow. Which only served to confuse my poor food fetcher, so I made do with a simple it’s a know-nothing going nowhere kind of day.
Much to my surprise this seemed to produce one of those butterfly-effect moments, and somewhere on the far side of ‘journey planners’ brain a couple of stray cells briefly rubbed together, and out tumbled all sorts of reminiscences about a long-distant past where a nationalised British Rail used to provide entertainment for the masses by organising ‘mystery trips’ by trains out of Cardiff Central station; or ‘Cardiff General’ as it was then, bearing in mind my groomer-in-chief is what I can only refer to as an ‘old git’, who seems to be thriving on my presence and attention.
If you are planning on going ‘somewhere’ just hope that nobody looking for a reason to play a practical joke suggests your train goes from Platform 5. On the other hand, if you are going ‘nowhere’ this is just the right place for you… go straight to Platform 0! Yes, you are right first time, I said zero.
Research on this computer contraption tells me this rather strange option for non-travel, or possibly even time-travel, is not just the preserve of the good people of Cardiff… the good, and in the interests of equality all other types of people, in Stockport (Cheshire), Preston (Lancashire) and Haymarket (Edinburgh), can all share in the global pursuit of going nowhere.
However, in Cardiff, we are talking about a mystery trip of a journey in the station itself.
You might have been planning on a straight-forward visit to the M&S Food emporium, stocking up for your journey to who-knows-where. But, who can resist the message that blocks your advance… Platform 0 even has a staircase of its own. If this doesn’t convince you of its elevated status (excuse the pun), what will? So, you make the understandable decision… London can wait, Swansea has lost its appeal (if it ever had any), Manchester and the North (wherever that place is) will have to wait. We are off on what might just prove to be the experience that knocks Harry Potter’s Platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross station into a minor footnote in the history of rail travel.
As you overcome your initial trepidation, you climb the stairs. Ever the informative types, the railway company have even expanded your knowledge of Welsh, with what must be one of the most useful signs you are ever likely to come across in the whole Principality. But, at least you know you are on the right track (ok, produce your own puns then!). Then they really excel themselves… remember, you are on a mystery journey going nowhere. For this, the most vital guide should be ‘no information at all’; and wow, do they come through. To top off your mysterious journey they have even provided a customer information kiosk… closed and shuttered!
Armed with nothing, you are now fully geared up to go nowhere… the train company wish you a relaxing and pleasant journey; if you have any further questions, just don’t ask.
For those readers who use this rail equivalent of a black hole, on your way to all stations to Ebbw Vale, I am Juno you mobile DJ offering you a little bit of Going Nowhere by Oasis, or alternatively for you ‘valleys’ go-getters here is Somewhere by Tom Waits. See you at the end of your journey, where ever that may be.