At midnight yesterday, I was somewhere between Northallerton and Darlington. It was five and a half hours since I left King’s Cross and my train had been stuck here for about three hours after the pantograph was blown off by the high winds. We had to wait for a rescue unit, called a “Thunderbird”, to come from Newcastle and tow us to the nearest station. Fortunately, I had enough charge on my iPad to idle away the hours learning how the app ‘Brushes’ works. The picture below – my first ever from Brushes – is of the German traveller who was sitting in the seat diagonally opposite me. I make few claims for its quality except to remind you that it was done at midnight. However, I can see how, with a little more practice, one could start producing some quite reasonable pictures in this way. I think that this is the app that David Hockney used for his show at the Royal Academy in 2012, so I am in good company.
A student in the carriage tweeted about our plight, and her tweet was picked up by BBC News. A few minutes later they called and not long after that she was interviewed live on air, during the course of which she mentioned that a Thunderbird was coming to rescue us. A few minutes later tweets about Thunderbirds coming to the rescue were arriving.
It had been a long day. I had caught the 0610 train to London this morning and had expected to be home at about 2130. Instead, I was sitting in a train that was rocking in the wind with no power save for emergency lighting. No power meant no heating and no hot drinks. The train crew handed out refreshments including free beer, which was a kind gesture but it didn’t warm us up. Eventually they started handing out silver space blankets too. Not long after that, they coupled the Thunderbird to the front of our train and towed us slowly up the line to our destinations. I eventually got home at 2 AM.