We hadn’t spent significant time with the Feeneys for donkey’s ears, so this overnight visit to Wolverhampton only just began refreshing the connections that time has allowed to grow paler. Our hearts were fed as we caught up on shared sympathies through turbulent years, and news of our younger Feeney friends. My sermon at the patronal Mass seemed to satisfy the congregation, and we got the chance to greet my former student supervisee Fr Ross Brooks at Evensong last night.
Then we struck out to introduce Flora and Minke to National Rail, which they navigated with about as much grace as we could reasonably ask of a hyperanxious Yorkie and a placid, if occasionally peevish, Malt-Apso. Our train to Oxford was cancelled because earlier in the day a passenger fell ill (there must be more to the story, but the public remains in the dark about the rationale). We then had to catch a train to Birmingham New (the blood runs cold) to catch the last direct train to Oxford at 20:01 — which we would have caught had the up-to-the-second digital signage that told us ‘This train is on time — arrival 19:51’ hadn’t kept on saying that for ten minutes as we waited on a siding outside the station until the train finally pulled up to Platform 4. We got to Platform 1a well after the Oxford train had left.
First the GWR passenger desk steered us to the National Rail Customer Reception desk, which then steered us to a train to London Euston which stops at Banbury (and dozens of other small stations for towns I didn’t even know existed); at Banbury we waited for a (late)… Rail Replacement Bus (cue the Wilhelm Scream). Ten or fifteen minutes after the bus was set to arrive, we boarded the bus from Banbury to Oxford, and rolled into Oxford just after a 5 bus departed the bus ranks at Oxford Station. Another twelve minutes on, the next bus arrived; and about ten minutes after midnight we staggered through the front door and, in very short order, keeled over into our beds.