Rather than tell the story yet again of how I sat on a number of trains for a number of hours, I thought it might be interesting to record the various people that I shared the journey with. You’re going to have to bear with me now, while I look at the two or three words I wrote in my phone for each person, and attempt to re-construct a little of them for your voyeuristic amusement.
It’s probably worth mentioning before starting that I was on the final train of my journey north for the better part of three and a half hours – and there are only so many TV shows you can watch on an Amazon Fire Tablet before you start thinking up other things to do (especially when the comedy you wanted to watch has bare breasts within the first few minutes of the pilot episode, and you’re aware there are children behind you).
p.s. what is it about US television programmes having a naked woman on-screen within the first few minutes of the pilot episode? Is it a requirement of all leading actress contracts? “Must get boobs out within 120 second of start of pilot episode”…
Anyway. I found my reserved seat on the train pretty quickly – as did a pretty girl with dark hair. A college graduate was sitting in her reserved seat. “I’ll sit here then, and see if anybody comes along”. “Umm…that will be me” (I pointed at myself). He made his apologies and took up another seat, several rows further back. Why do people do that? Why? There are digital signs above all seats on trains these days, telling you if they are reserved.
I’m going to call the pretty girl with dark hair “Window Girl”, because she spent the majority of the hour she sat next to me looking out of the window. In order to do so, she half-turned in her seat, which wedged her backside quite firmly over the edge of my seat. In true british fashion I said nothing, but silently edged an inch across my seat to avoid any embarassing accidental contact between us. I almost offered her some of the chocolates I had bought at the raiway station, but then worried that it was an open bag, and she might refuse because she didn’t know where my hands had been (they were perfectly clean, just for the record). Of course it never crossed my mind that I didn’t know where her hands had been either. Do grubby hands still count toward the however-many-second-rule when you drop food on the floor?
The Girl Holding Everything
No sooner had the dark haired girl got off the train, a blonde girl got on, and fixed gaze at me, which apparently meant “can I get to my seat please?”. I of course obliged quickly, and she then flustered over pushing her backpack under her legs, and a second bag (makeup?!) onto her lap. I wondered if I should ask if she wanted me to help put her bags on the shelf above our heads, but she appeared to be hanging on to them for grim death, so I kept my mouth shut.
Stig of the Dump
Half an hour further into the journey, the train rolled to stop at Birmingham New Street, and half the passengers scrambled for the exits. This included a guy sat a few rows in front of me, who appeared to have had a children’s birthday party for one. There were empty fizzy drink bottles, empty crisp bags, empty chocolate wrappers, and various other rubbish strewn everywhere. I was incensed, and thought more than once about shouting down the train carriage “OY! What the boody hell do you think you’re doing?”. It didn’t help that he looked like an entitled student with label clothes, and a stupid haircut. Once again, I kept my mouth shut, and felt sorry for whoever would be sitting there next.
The Woman Who Didn’t Understand
I never actually saw her. She was behind me. Shortly before we pulled out of Birmingham, a voice behind me said “I don’t understand any of these signs above the seats – lets just sit here and see if anybody turns up”. How? How can you not understand a sign that very clearly says “Reserved from Birmingham to Manchester”? It was of course no surprise when a pretty student picked her way through the mayhem to the seat where the two women were sitting, and showed them her seat reservation card.
The Man with the Muffin Top Arms
During the final leg of the journey a tattooed man stood in the central aisle of the train carriage, holding shopping bags for a dyed blonde lady sitting adjacent to him. She had shopping bags on her lap. Something struck me about him after a few minutes – he had perhaps twenty leather bracelets wrapped around his right wrist (or one massive bracelet), which seemed to be so tight they caused the skin of both his hand, and his fore-arm to bulge out. I started wondering if he was the living version of “Stretch Armstrong” – the toy I had in the 1970s that my aunt’s dog chewed up (it was full of glue – shame it didn’t glue it’s mouth shut – it chewed up Boba Fett’s gun a couple of Christmases later).
Finally, an angry man came down the train carriage. He looked like he had been dragged through a hedge backwards, with tufts of hair poking out all over the place. He was perhaps fifty years old, and unshaven. He looked like he had the world on his shoulders. He strode through the carriage, and then started pointing his finger at somebody and ranting at them. I cut Tori Amos off in the middle of “Welcome to England”, and pulled my headphones from my ears to better hear his rant, but couldn’t make head or tail of it. You can imagine my surprise, half an hour later, when the protagonist turned out to be his son – almost a carbon scruffy copy, but about 12 years old.
I suppose I should close this post with somebody that none of us saw. As the train pulled into Manchester Picadilly station, the guy reading out the station announcements along the way shouted “Welcome to Manchestaaaaaa” in quite possibly the best Mancunion accent I’ve ever heard. Everybody on the train burst into laughter, and went about their way with a huge smile.