Crossed crevassed chasms vast
And endless plains of unshaven ass
Our time in Hell draws to the last!
—Gwar, “The One That Will Not Be Named” (Beyond Hell)
Right on the Winter Solstice, as the nights finally begin to shorten and the days lengthen, I’ve come home to Worthing to stay with my folks (and recover from this ongoing cough I’ve had for nearly two weeks)… and oh, I’ve realised just how far I’ve come in 2015, and how much better my life is than it was this time in 2014, or indeed before that!
Naturally, I’m right back to having trouble getting down to Worthing for Christmas; last year I avoided any problems simply by travelling on the 20th (though I wonder if Fate was also going easy on me because I’d already “suffered enough” in November and December), but this year, having an actual job, I had to wait until just before Christmas. I was lucky to be able to take a half-day on the 23rd, and though free pizza (!) at work and a couple of jobs at home delayed my departure, it looked like I wouldn’t have had a better journey if I’d left earlier anyway, as Southern Railway (named and shamed) were having a bad day, and every journey before 5pm would have needed at least one change.
I’d wondered if I’d had too good luck getting to Victoria station (pedestrian crossing and Tube trains being somehow timed to speed me along), and it seems I had indeed used up my positive karma… or had I? Let’s count the phases of my journey…
- A direct train to my family’s nearest train station (west of Worthing) at 5:18pm “cancelled”, apparently due to ongoing train crew shortage.
- As a result, I and many others piled onto a Brighton service that had been delayed due to a signal failure at Haywards Heath (as opposed to Preston Park). At least I got a seat.
- No westbound services from Brighton other than an occasional train to Hove, from which we would be able to get a westbound service… “if any trains are running”, as the guard honestly admitted. At least I got a seat.
- Westbound services through Hove further disrupted by a signal failure at Littlehampton (were both signal failures targetted at me personally?!), but a train turned up just as I crossed to the right platform, though it would be stopping only at Worthing and Littlehampton. At least I got a seat (though I almost missed getting off in time, due to the lady in the aisle seat staying on the train!).
- Calling my folks on the train meant my mother was able to come and pick me up from Worthing’s central station (which was certainly easier to reach than Woking); she arrived minutes after I stepped out of the station! We drove through streets unfamiliar to me (though not quite as creepy or otherworldly as in 2013), and got home safely.
This might seem like a hellish journey, but the fact that I was able to find a relatively simple path through the chaos suggests I did have luck on my side after all — for example, getting to Hove just in time for that one adequate train! And considering how bad train commuting is for an old university friend of mine (who has to rely on SWT as well as Southern), I think I got off lightly. I know I suggested that travelling on the 23rd would mean I was cursed, but I see no evidence that travelling today (the 24th) would have been any better; indeed it would probably have been worse, as the ongoing shortage of train crews has been exacerbated by a corpse being found on the tracks at East Croydon…
— — —
Ah, the Sun’s coming out down here in Ferring, after a miserable, rainy start to the day; another sign that things are getting better! I’m also finally recovering from my cough, after a particularly bad night (very sore throat), so I guess we could say we’ve left all the bad stuff behind with the Solstice. I know I went through some bad depression in 2015, but it’s now hard for me to feel unhappy, and I need a good run-up to get even mildly disenchanted — and I don’t seem to need St. John’s wort; this seems to be for no greater reason than that I have a good job at last, on a permanent basis, with all sorts of benefits (like payments to help with healthcare… and paid leave until the 4th of January!!!).
(Don’t get me wrong: I know £22k isn’t much of a wage in London, but when you consider I’ve seen £18k quoted for similar “first line IT support” roles — or even £16k for somehow commuting to Stanmore — you’ll appreciate why I’m so pleased!)
My depression really does seem to be largely circumstantial, and my circumstances are pretty good now. However, think on this: while things are certainly far better than at this time in 2014, when I had no job and felt like a failure, and thus had to run off home to hide in Ferring with my folks for two weeks, what about 2013? Back then I had a steady job, and indeed a higher pay packet than now, and after the travel chaos I had a nice time with my folks down here, but I didn’t like my job, or a couple of inescapable people in my office, and wanted very much to leave (indeed, the prospect of leaving was all that kept me going). Thus, the fact that I’m now in a job I want to be doing puts me well above where I was then, and means my happiness has more of a solid foundation, rather than being based on a sense of temporary relief.
It’s good to leave behind my pathetically nostalgic feelings about Christmas 2013, wishing I could go back in time and endure that crazy train journey to Woking, and the scary drive with my mother through unfamiliar country roads, just so my life could be back as it was at the end of 2013, before all the misery of the second half of 2014 and the slow recovery of 2015. I don’t know how good things will be in 2016, but at least I truly feel like they can be good. Most of all, I no longer regret leaving my job at Camden council on a fool’s quest to break into IT in my late 30s… because this fool’s damn well succeeded!