Friday, May 18, 2007

Trains, Big Brother, Training Wheels

I travelled back to wales yesterday, I have a Christening to go to on Sunday and various other events to celebrate, my 30th and my Mum's birthday included.

Most people have the good sense not to invite me to Christenings or Weddings, with the only church related activity I've had to endure being funerals. This is my Mum's brother though, and I've yet to meet his new wife so I kind of had to make the effort. So long as the Lord can refrain from smiting me in his House whilst the baby dunking is going on all will be well.

Anyway, it took a little over 2 hours to get from my flat to Euston, probably a distance of 23 miles. It took a little less time to get from Euston to Chester, a distance of 192 miles. That sentence was just to add justification for buying a car later in the year - moving on.
I took my seat at Euston and my standard train experience looked like it was about to begin. The seat next to mine was reserved, a small 1-2 year old child was in the seat immediately to my front and the train was filling up.

Now under normal circumstances this means that the moment the journey begins, the child will attempt the world's longest, loudest and most irritating scream-a-thon whilst the mother looks on tsking and attempting to placate the child with some technique she thinks she saw once on some crappy reality show. The reserved seat would be occupied by someone of questionable personal hygiene who either:

1) Has an intensely boring hobby that he feels must be shared with the world. Collecting Word Fonts, eyebrow classification, window frame spotting - things of this nature.

2) Just got released from prison.

3) Sleeps, snores, drools.

4) You're not sure what's wrong but you have a feeling he used to dissect things as a child to 'see how they worked'.

5) All of the above.

I was ready. I had my Zune, my DS, a book, my phone and a set of headphones.

None of which I needed. The child gurgled and played the whole journey without whining once, my would be murderous, boring cannibal failed to show and I had a pleasant and uneventful journey. Even the normal contingent of shambolic mutants that board at Crewe were relatively non-repulsive.

I did notice one man, he was in a seat in the opposite row of seats. For the first hour of the Euston-Chester journey he had a Sat Nav device out, which he was staring intently at. Now I was fairly sure that the driver of the train, no matter how unskilled, was unlikely to take a wrong turn and end up in a field in Sussex. This guy clearly thought otherwise. After an hour he put the thing away, I assume because it was a the treacherous Southeast - Midlands section of the journey that most concerned him. He didn't get up to tell the driver that he had stopped monitoring his progress, so either he was some kind of unofficial person or (I think you'll agree that this is more likely), he was just satisfied to let him carry on on his own, much like when your dad is pushing you on your first bike and he lets you go without telling you.

At the end of the journey I imagine the young, fresh-faced train driver approached SatNavMan and said 'So SatNavMan (this is probably a title rather than his actual name) did I do?'

SNM: 'I don't know, I stopped monitoring after Warwick son, after were on your own'

A tear in both their eyes.

Dad picked me up from Chester, he'd learned a new joke since my last visit. I'll post some pics on facebook if the weather picks up and I can get up the mountain.


Julie_Gong said...

i know this is super late but happy birthday!

Olivia said...

THe rest of the world should know that the Brits talk about the buses and trains more than they talk about the weather now. Weather talk, that is so last-generation.

MattJ said...

In our defence, public trasnport is an absolute mine of 'you'll never guess what I saw today...' stories due to the press of humanity (sometimes that word can only be applied loosely ;)) you get in such a small space. Couple that with awesome excuses for delays such as 'there are sheep near the trainline' (genuine!) and 'there's a door stuck at Crewe', and you can't help but talk about it!

lunaliar said...

Makes me wish we had more trains... I love those experiences, eyeballing the country mutants and getting accosted by loud, opinionated people intent on making conversation with you when you intended anything but.

Hope the baby dunking went on without incident!

Olivia said...

Luna - one can only "love those experiences" when one does not do it regularly!

lunaliar said...

Funny though, the large and odious homeless population rides the trains in Dallas, which I ride to downtown from East Dallas on the weekdays for my commute. I would rather be riding a train than driving, that's for sure, because driving can be quite boring and tiring, and most other people that drive are idiots!

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