Memories Of William
“Thank goodness for that” I thought as, after a two-hour wait, I finally boarded the train at Euston Station for the journey home. It had been an exhausting day at work and I hardly had time to notice the change in the weather which, without warning, had changed from one of those grey and gloomy January mornings to heavy snow before mid-day. In those days, just half a dozen flakes of this white precipitant seemed to throw the whole country into a state of disarray – especially the railways. On reflection it seems that little has changed in the last twenty years.
I wondered when I would eventually get home as the train limped along, pausing at every opportunity for what seemed a lifetime, to delay passengers reaching their final destinations. The normal twenty-five minute journey took over one and a half hours in a draughty, unheated carriage and by the time I reached Kings Langley station, as I remember, it was well past ten oclock at night.
Most commuters had anticipated the adverse weather conditions by leaving work early and just a handful of us emerged from the train to face the final trek through the snow to the warmth and comfort of home. It was well past the hour when buses ran and to my surprise I was first to reach the telephone box to let my wife know where I was and beg her taxi service. The phone was out of order (no mobiles in those days) and as I contemplated the long three-mile walk home through the snow, I was approached by a short, well-dressed gentleman who I recognised as one of my fellow passengers on the train. “Can we offer you a lift?” he said, “My wife is picking me up and we are going back to Chipperfield, if that is any help to you”. Anyone who has been in similar circumstances will know that such an offer of help as a time of despair is so welcome that it remains in ones memory for ever.
I did not know him – he did not know me, but that was my first encounter with Sir William Stabb which I shall never forget. Vic Archer