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Part 1

On Saturday morning, I went to the National Rail Enquiries webpage to find out what the train times were from Birmingham to Northampton. My fingers typed in my origin and my destination, and I saw that trains left at 13 and 49 past the hour all afternoon. I navigated my way through a crowded and slightly confusing mall to Birmingham New Street, and checked the Departures board for my train. There it was, time and destination, with a platform listing. I was on the platform with 10 minutes to spare. But not until the train pulled up and the announcer said what train it was, aloud, that I realized that this was the train to Nottingham.

The words are close to the same length and have many of the same letters; even so, I'd been the one to start this cascade of confusion by subconsciously typing in the wrong destination in the first place. I knew where I was going, and it wasn't Nottingham. It was a good, if highly disconcerting, lesson in careless reading, in how easy it is to recognize, rather than read, a word, when reading inattentively.

The next train to Northampton wasn't for another 45 minutes, but fortunately my ride was running late too, so it ended up proving no problem for anything except my ego.

Part 2

A city is never best judged from its ring roads. The train pulled in through gently rolling hills to an industrial expanse. The railway station seemed no where in particular. Its driveway meandered a bit before dropping us onto a car-oriented road. As we wended our way around Northampton in search of the right road signs, the city struck me as incoherent. It grew up in minor spurts and starts before indulging in minor, generic sprawl and a tangle of overlapping routs orbiting the center. I've only driven around Northampton, and it's superficial to judge a city on such transient interaction. Then again, it didn't say much about it when I read on a hotel review website, in a frequent business traveler's comment, that all the city's hotels are located at dual carriageway junctions.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 1st, 2007 11:04 pm (UTC)
where in northampton are you going to be/did you go?

my grandparents are in northampton and they have a lovely shoe museum.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 09:04 am (UTC)
That's so neat! Thank you for giving me a reason to think better of Northampton. I knew I'd probably sold it short, but then I didn't even do it the justice of reading my guidebook entry, knowing I was just passing through. I spent last night on its outskirts and went to a wedding party, but am back home again already. (If you know the area well, I was in Roade and Wilby.)

I've been to the Bata Shoe Museum a few times in Toronto. I like the idea of going to another one. I wonder how many there are in the world?
Apr. 1st, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
Nice to know where you are in such detail
It's been a long while - can't believe I found you through a random google search. We haven't talked since you were still in school and doing your PhD and I met one of your fellow students.

Anyway, *snugs* I'm glad you're well and enjoying wandering around. I'm going to spend some time actually reading your livejournal, so I won't ask useless questions when I can so easily find the answer.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 09:07 am (UTC)
Re: Nice to know where you are in such detail
I am so happy to hear from you! I finished my PhD a year ago, and have been living in London (UK) for the past two years with C. Just to confuse everyone, I'm teaching for the University of Arkansas (online), although living no where near there.

My geographic whereabouts regularly baffle even people who read my LJ regularly, so it's easier for me to just tell you rather than have you try to deduce it from my posts. My posts are better for small snapshots of pieces of my life than any coherent overall picture.

I'd love to know more about you and how you've been when you have a moment - email, posts, comments, whatever's good for you.
Apr. 3rd, 2007 09:13 am (UTC)
Re: Nice to know where you are in such detail
I'm heading to bed now - I get to work with Japanese accounts while living in the US so my timezones are completely messed up.

:) But it's a nice warmy fuzzy feeling to hear from you again.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:01 am (UTC)
Birmingham - Northampton... I think I've done that...
Apr. 2nd, 2007 08:59 am (UTC)
The trains leave at 36 minutes past the hour on Saturday afternoon, hourly. It's an easy trip. Especially if you're waiting for the correct train.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 02:52 pm (UTC)
Oh.. THAT Northampton.
Apr. 2nd, 2007 06:35 pm (UTC)
I only do it to confuse you.
Apr. 4th, 2007 01:53 am (UTC)
I supected as much.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )