There is something incredibly special about a person or event that can bring together a mismatched group of people who, on any ordinary day would pass each other by without a second glance.
From around six o’clock a group began to gather at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. From the outset that might not seem the like anything special, especially on a reasonably mild night in such a vibrant part of the City. There were people speaking more languages than I could count, laughing, chatting, some sitting outside pubs like the Punch and Judy drinking IPA and eating pie and chips whilst a string quartet made up of three violins and a cello played the Stereophonics, across the cobbles families with young children looked it wonder as a rather ‘enthusiastic’ street entertainer balanced crazy large objects on her chin.
The people who arrived were, quite an eclectic bunch. There were many slightly older men with beards who could talk for England. It was the only time in almost 40 years listen to someone speak so passionately about rivets. The retired man with slightly out grown hair and beard came from Aylesbury and had a well-loved rucksack over one shoulder. ‘My love for rivets is well known on Facebook’ I was told as he pointed out the joists above our head. All I could think was how they remind me of the body of the Daleks in Dr Who.
There were quite a few young men gathering who could have been easily mistaken for characters or participants in shows like Big Bang Theory or University Challenge.
One of the museum staff called out ‘can all the people who are here for the All The Stations talk please have their tickets ready’
This was the reason for the gathering a talk by Jeff and Vicky of ‘All The Stations’. They are a couple who, earlier this summer spent fourteen weeks, six days, eight hours and twenty-two minutes visiting every, yes every railway station all two thousand five hundred and sixty three of them in Great Britain, and all the people at the seminar shared a love of railways.
As people filled in and removed their jackets a wide selection of ‘All The Stations’ t-shirts were on display. If you could bottle the excitement in the air it would be a best seller. The chatter was one of genuine thrill and anticipation. Some people had met the Jeff and Vicky on the trip. For others it felt like they were waiting to meet one of their hero’s.
Andrew from Portsmouth said: ‘I feel like they’re my friends who I’ve been on this big adventure with…but tonight we’ll actually meet for the first time’
When moment a representative from the museum came on stage you could hear the slightest breath, until the door opened to the side of the lectern and on to the stage strode Jeff followed behind by Vicky. The force of the noise came out of no-where a bit like when a tube train emerges into earshot.
The talk, which lasted just over ninety minutes was full of laughter from everyone.
The talk took everyone listening on the personal journey from how an idea which began as a passing comment, became a reality. It may sound cliché but throughout the whole process it was the people which kept astounding the pair repeatedly.
It started with a You Tube video, then the crowd funding platform went bonkers, people donating and sponsoring stations. The co-operation of the railway companies and the masses and masses of support on social media.
Every person in that room hung on every word that was spoken. Stories which brought to life slides, which captured the smiles and the cups of tea. The love of the Pacer and the random acts of kindness like a young couple in from Thorne who randomly stopped them as they walked between the two stations due to a line issue and gave them a lift after excitedly slowing and shouting ‘it’s you two, your Jeff and Vicky’.