A fan of music and British trains, Greg Bauer has over 100 rail tickets signed by celebrities. Here, he tells Londonist how his hobby came about.
As an American, for as long as I can remember, I have always been infatuated with London. I always knew one day I would travel there. Then, one day on a Thursday evening in October 1984, a musician friend randomly rang up asking me if I wanted to meet him in London on Saturday.
I jumped on the idea and went to NY the next day, got a passport and boarded a flight that Saturday.
Taking the Gatwick Express to Victoria for the first time is where my love for London and the rail system began. Looking out the window, seeing the English landscape, imagining everyday English life using these new sights and sounds. And then on the entry to London, seeing Battersea Power Station — for me, the Pink Floyd building!
Once in London, I was taken in by the history, architecture, sounds, smells of the Underground and rail system. London became like a second home. I would try spending as much time as I could there, making lifelong friends, meeting my wife there. Needless to say London has been good to me.
As a huge fan of music — and most of my friends being musicians — along with being an autograph collector, I thought 'how can I incorporate my love of London, music, the rail system and Underground into something meaningful for me?' The idea of signed rail tickets came after I met a band from Manchester, Nine Black Alps, and only had the rail ticket to get signed.
I guess the most memorable was contacting Frank Turner via his management, sending some stuff to be signed (including a rail ticket) which were all signed and returned. About a year later I met Frank in New Jersey and he remembered getting and signing the rail ticket — because it was so different and a cool thing to sign. That opened up a nice conversation.