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On the Train, Off the Train- Day Two

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Today it's St. Pancras that has the pleasure of my company, but the ticket barriers, complex platform arrangements and presence of the Eurostar all make this a more difficult nut to crack.  So first stop is the Station Manager's office, where I come across my first hint of 'more than my job's worth' and 'need to talk to the PR people'. I'm invited to take a seat for a few minutes while the chap concerned disappears behind the scenes. I'm beginning to think that I might have run up against a brick wall when he reappears and OK's the issue of a visitor's pass.

Fully badged up, and having read and signed the safety instructions, it's back to the trains. Books go on trains to places like Sheffield and Corby, but when it comes to the Eurostar, I have visions of an immense bureaucratic hassle given security, customs, passport control and the like. But I gird my loins and approach the customer services desk. The lady across the desk is at first mildly suspicious but breaks into a broad smile as I explain what I'm trying to do.  "What a great idea," she exclaims, and calls her colleagues over. The upshot is that I get escorted to the Paris and Brussels trains, and leave three books on each. Three books get placed by staff in the departure lounge and another two go to members of staff who are keen to read the book and pass it on.

For those trains for which St. Pancras is the terminus, things are straightforward.  But for others (such as Brighton, Sevenoaks and St. Albans), St. Pancras is just a calling point. Trying to get three books on to these trains without finding myself going on an unscheduled journey- or worse, causing a security alert through being seen to hop on and off trains in a suspicious manner- calls for some planning. I ask the station manager for help, and she's both cheerful and delighted to help. One of the station staff is tasked to come down to the platform with me, and I request the loan of a hi-vis jacket so that I can clearly be seen by passenegers to be 'official'. This has the un-anticipated downside that several people approach me to ask for help.

Between the two of us, we get the requisite three books on to each train without mishap. My bag is again empty, but there are still a few destinations to do so one last visit is called for, but it won't be for a while.

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Guest Wednesday, 18 October 2017

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