A Winter’s Tale

Yet again a few inches of snow saw the city grind to a halt and public transport cancelled. Andy Munro was one of the many passengers inconvenienced.

SnowSaturday saw me almost freeze to death watching the non-event that was Blues v Southampton then trudge into the city centre where I was doing some collecting duties at the Hippodrome for Leukaemia. I had cadged a lift from my son to the match on the basis that my car might have been immobile by the time I left a snowbound Hippodrome later on.

Anyway, as my evening stint drew to a close, my thoughts turned to getting home to Hollywood and with buses often affected, I decided to let the train take the strain.

Not being a regular train traveller, I asked for some advice from a mate and was told Whitlocks End (or as it turned out, should it have been ‘Wits End’) was my best bet. As I made my way to Moor Street, I asked my wife, at home, to try and find out the situation. She identified a Rail ‘Hotline’ and after the usual 57 varieties of options (by which time it was more like a cold line) she was asked to say the name of the station. After several failed attempts annunciating Birmingham Moor Street in perfect Queen’s English and it being misconstrued for Liverpool Street and others she was advised to text. Several texts later, she was given the normal train times from Moor St with no cancellation caveats. Meanwhile I had just arrived at Moor Street to be greeted by the announcement that the last two trains to Whitlocks End had been cancelled, due to frozen points… this at a time when a thaw was already setting in.

In desperation, I walked over the road to join a milling throng at the 50 bus stop…allegedly the most frequent and busiest bus service in Europe. Initial signs were good with the hi-tech data screen encouragingly showing three buses imminent. That was until somebody told me that they had been waiting an hour. Where were that officious team of Centro personnel, with their luminous jackets, radios and clipboards when we needed them? No doubt tucked up safely in bed.

Consequently, I decided that a brisk (but unfortunately rather long) walk was in order. As I strode out into the frozen wastes of Digbeth and the ascent of Bradford Street, I suddenly spied a convoy of gritters – the new super duper Amey to the rescue! Now, why couldn’t they have been out a little earlier? No doubt they would blame this on routes being blocked by stranded vehicles and possibly the wrong type of snow. Anyway, in fairness to Amey,their gritting did the trick and, as I walked along Moseley Road, it was clear that even an old lady in her three wheeler would have had no trouble navigating the highway.

Now where I take further issue is that there was no connectivity between Amey and Centro because the latter could have done themselves a great PR favour by sending out a final bus on the cleared main roads. Of course the bus drivers, by then, were probably also tucked up in bed – hopefully not with the luminous jacketed stewards. Incidentally, many taxi firms were apparently charging double even to their regulars…well done guys for showing what you really think of your customers.

Meanwhile my walk took 1hour 40 minutes to Hollywood – not bad when the bus usually takes 30 minutes to travel from the city to Maypole even in clement conditions. Shame I couldn’t have turned it into a sponsored walk for leukaemia.