Trundling through the countryside on the East Coast main line our carriages are packed. More than packed. Heaving. I was one of the lucky ones to get a seat. How can this line not make money I thought as a large woman dragged a suitcase up our carriage hitting the elbow of everyone on the way.
I always approach a train journey with a feeling of despair and impending doom. While secretly pinning hopes on a forward facing window seat surrounded by flirty students all taking an Honours Degree in seducing older men on trains I end up with the sort of people who shouldn’t be in the community without matron mopping up behind then.
And yet again I wasn’t disappointed. Facing me across the table was an young lunatic with a sniffly nose and an attitude. He spent most of the journey drinking cans of turbo lager and texting. I notice he had ‘love’ and ‘hate’ tattooed on the knuckles of his hands. I spent most of the journey between York and Peterborough silently chortling to myself as I imagined him being involved in a tragic industrial accident, losing a finger, and having to spend the rest of his life with ‘love’ and ‘hat’ on his paws. With dedication like that surely a job in millinery couldn’t be ruled out.
And so the journey passed with various travellers arriving and passing through my world- in this case Coach F. The roll call will be familiar to you- the elderly couple with something unspeakable wrapped in foil; loud groups of women with make up vigorously applied (in the dark it seemed to me) off to see Billy Elliott; berks on mobiles; foreigners appalled at the pathetic speed of the train and the price of coffee (£1.70) but most of all, people like you and me putting up with it all and doing anything to pass the time.
There are a number of fascinating games I like to play to pass the time so I don’t lose my mind. Counting rabbits; counting crops; counting Christmas trees; looking for naked people in upstairs windows (admit it you’ve done that) and in an increasingly disturbing middle age development checking out greenhouses on the progress of tomatoes.
And for those of a technical bent try this. Switch on ‘Bluetooth’ on your mobile, search for other devices and within 30 seconds an intriguing list of names from your carriage will pop up on your phone. You then spend the rest of the journey trying to guess who’s who. So my apologies to Krazy Kath, Dave’s Phone, Nokia N96, Mental Tam and Boro Forever if I got you all mixed up. And in case you’re wondering who Clear Off Nosey is then the secret is out.