Train Adventures

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It’s another glorious day and I’m on a train to London – I’ve booked tickets for The Commitments for my mother and I and we’re going to have a lovely meal at a beautiful restaurant.

I always try and reserve seats in advance and I was pleased that for once I had managed to obtain a seat with a table and a plug outlet. Unfortunately, when I arrived I had discovered that an elderly lady had sat in it. She pretended not to hear me when I informed her that she had taken my seat so I sat opposite her instead. It’s fairly quiet at the minute and I’m quite comfortable so I’ll wait until someone tells me to move and then work it out later. I’m currently sitting next to a lovely woman from London who is on her way back from a bachelorette party and is feeling extremely hung over. She’s very nice, but absolutely reeks of alcohol. We’ve been stopped for a while now in the middle of nowhere as there is apparently debris on the track, so I’m going to be late for meeting mum, but it has given me the opportunity to be nosey and observe those around me.

Regardless of the journey I am on, there are always the same type of people in each carriage:

1. The Sniffer. It’s almost rhythmic – 1, 2, 3, sniff, 1,2, 3, sniff. I have been known to make up melodies to match the patterns.

2. The Small Talker. The person that’s desperate to get to know everyone around them because they can’t stand the silence.

3. The Old Marrieds. Obviously been together as long as I’ve been alive, and have developed the art of commenting on everything and everyone around them… “Ooh, look John, a lovely tree. Isn’t that a lovely tree!”

4. The Stag and Hen parties. It’s always possible to tell what stage of the party they have reached based on the noise level – if it’s just beginning there will be lots of shouting and laughing, if they’re on the way home the smell of stale beer will be in the air and they’ll be talking very slowly and quietly about the events of the previous night.

5. The Business Person. Dressed in a suit. Working on a laptop. Talking loudly on the phone, their conversation interspersed with loud guffawing.

6. The Stressed Out Parent. Their child simply won’t shut up, and so they’ve given up and have allowed them to run up and down the carriage just for a minutes peace.

7. The Complainer. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. They’re tired. Why isn’t the coffee machine working in the shop.

8. The Girl Who Has Just Been Dumped. Will spend the entire journey on the phone, starting with the ex and followed by every single female friend in their phone. Usually finishes with a phone call to their mother.

9. The Chewer. Chews their food loudly. Very loudly. Fond of consuming crisps (chips) in vast quantities…

10. The Music Enthusiast. Likes to listen to music on their headphones so loudly that the rest of the carriage can hear them.

What about you guys? Do you see any stereotypes on public transport?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

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One Hundred Miles: Collecting Detail

Picture courtesy of Lovinchelle

I moved to Birmingham in 2001, just under one hundred miles away from where I grew up in Bolton, My mother still lives there and every few months I will travel ‘Oop North’ to visit her. As I don’t drive (long story, but perhaps best saved for another time) I get the train. The average journey lasts about two hours and I often amuse myself by writing about the details in my surroundings – fellow passengers, the scenery, interesting events – the passing of time seems to fly by and before I know it I’m at my destination. Here are some of my recent observations – I apologise if you may have read some of this before.

Sometimes, the journey is entertaining even before it begins.

I’m not a morning person. In an ideal world, the very early hours of the morning are when I would be at my most productive, but I’m resigned to the fact that any sort of focus at work would be impossible if I don’t have a minimum of eight hours sleep every night.

Meh.

However, the journey to the station proved to be quite an interesting one. Even at 6am there were still lots of people walking around in their clubbing outfits from the night before and some had obviously started to feel the effects of consuming their entire bodyweight in alcohol. One particular girl was stumbling around outside the station in a dress that was so short it barely covered her bottom. She had taken her enormously high shoes off and had made the intelligent decision not to bring a coat on one of the coldest nights of the year so she was shivering violently. She was alone and looked miserable, so I asked her if she was ok and was she able to get home. She looked at me with a death stare and replied:

“Yeah. F*ck off and mind your own business.”

Nice. As I started to walk away a car pulled up and I heard the girl yelling, “Where the f*ck have you been? I’m freezing my f*cking t*ts off here!”

Classy bird.

Waiting on the platform can be miserable.

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Bolton train station on a cold Sunday morning

Small train stations are miserable places in the UK, particularly when the weather is cold and windy. The platform is quiet and the air is punctuated by the sound of a screaming child and the occasional announcement over the tannoy system by a woman who clearly lost her passion for her job years ago. There’s a man that has been hovering near me for the last ten minutes. I know what’s coming next: he’s going to sit next to me, ask me what my name is, where I am going and them ask me if I smoke and can he have a cigarette. I don’t mind talking to people – I’ve had lots of different conversations during train journeys and I always find them really interesting, but I always attract the cigarette hunters, despite the fact that I don’t smoke that often and rarely have them on me…

Nope, I was wrong. He wanted 20 pence. I’m not quite sure why he wanted such a small amount, but gave it him anyway.

The passengers can be very interesting, or not.

It’s currently 7.00am and I am on the train up to Manchester to go and visit my mum. It’s still dark outside, there’s a heavy mist in the air and there are just three of us in this particular carriage. The other two are having a deep and meaningful discussion about life and keep quoting motivational phrases at each other. Normally, I like these sorts of thoughts and must have thousands of inspirational messages saved onto my computer, but at this time in a morning I would rather they shut up, or at least conduct their discussion at a normal volume – Brian Blessed would be proud of their current efforts.

The Motivational Speakers and I have been joined by a young Asian woman, who has promptly fallen asleep in the chair opposite mine. Her expression is hilarious – her head is almost on the arm of the seat and her mouth is wide open. She isn’t dribbling yet, but it’s only a matter of time…

The views can be somewhat surprising.

Up until five minutes ago I was happily immersed in the WordPress world, completely oblivious to my surroundings. The carriage on the train is fairly empty and most passengers are asleep, so I’ve had a lovely journey. Suddenly, someone said,

“Wow! Look at that!”

I glanced out of the window and saw this:

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A beautiful sunset

How stunning. I almost missed it!

And the eternal mystery… Mr Sushi!

I was quietly minding my own business, attempting to take photographs of the scenery outside. In the seats opposite were a young male and female and judging by their conversation they had only just met. He was slightly older than her and a little rough around the edges, while she was quite well spoken and demure. As the journey continued it became evident that there was a mutual attraction – he joked and teased her about the car that she drove, she giggled at his silly jokes and in between a few awkward silences they both tried to ask each other questions about each others lives without appearing too desperate. He said he was 24, she claimed that she was 20 (although she looked a little younger), she explained where she had been the night before, he appeared interested and listened intently… It was very sweet.

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Houses near Stockport

About an hour into the journey the man pulled out the biggest box of sushi I’ve ever seen, proclaiming that he ate large amounts of it. I was a little confused by this – his efforts to impress may have been thwarted by the smell that permeated from it, but the girl seemed unfazed and the light flirting continued. Mr Sushi was obviously beginning to gain in confidence – he made a few derogatory comments about himself, thus giving her the opportunity to compliment him and then made a statement about ‘not being able to chat up a girl properly.’ Her response was, again, to giggle.

As nosey as I may sound, their conversation kept me entertained all the way to Birmingham New Street Station. Just as the train arrived and I got up to leave, I heard Mr Sushi ask for her phone number. Unfortunately, there was a huge queue of people behind me that forced me to walk off the train, and I didn’t get to hear her answer.

AARGH!!

Thus is the eternal mystery that I will never know the answer to. Did Mr Sushi get the girl’s phone number????

In my little world, I hope he did. Despite the sushi.

Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge.

More Train Adventures…

I’m currently sitting at the station waiting to go home after spending the night at mum’s house. I’ve really enjoyed myself, but had a minor heart attack when I discovered this morning that I had several missed calls from The Bloke and I instantly had horrible thoughts that something bad had happened to one of the cats. It turns out that he’d managed to lock himself out of the house, AGAIN, and this meant that he’d have to get the train up to visit his family today instead of driving. Thank goodness I have my keys with me, but it has meant that I’ve had to leave a little earlier than anticipated in order to get home before he does.

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Small train stations are miserable places in the UK, particularly when the weather is cold and windy. The platform is quiet and the air is punctuated by the sound of a screaming child and the occasional announcement over the tannoy system by a woman who clearly lost her passion for her job years ago. There’s a man that has been hovering near me for the last ten minutes. I know what’s coming next: he’s going to sit next to me, ask me what my name is, where I am going and them ask me if I smoke and can he have a cigarette. I don’t mind talking to people – I’ve had lots of different conversations during train journeys and I always find them really interesting, but I always attract the cigarette hunters, despite the fact that I don’t smoke that often and rarely have them on me…

Nope, I was wrong. He wanted 20 pence. I’m not quite sure why he wanted such a small amount, but gave it him anyway.

The train is due in five minutes. I’m going to try and catch up on your comments. Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday!

How To Piss Off a Train Load of People in Eight Easy Steps.

I’m on the train to visit my mum for her birthday. Normally I get an early train as there are lots of available seats and a lack of screaming children, but as I’ve had a tough week I decided to have a lie in instead and go in the afternoon.

I’ve written many times about the minor annoyances I have when surrounded by members of the general public – there always seems to be that one person who seems to go out of their way to be as inconsiderate as possible. However, the annoying person on board today is ME – in the last half an hour I have been the biggest pain in the arse for my fellow passengers. Here is how to piss off an entire train load of people in eight easy steps…

1. Bring a large rucksack. Accidentally hit people on their heads with it when walking past.

2. Upon finding a seat, stand on the toe of the person sitting in the adjoining seat.

3. Eat a rather crumbly pasty. Accidentally drop some of your pasty on the bag of the person in the adjoining seat.

4. When rummaging in your rucksack to find your headphones, accidentally elbow the (now clearly agitated) person in the adjoining seat.

5. Decide that you want some water from the train shop. As you have reservations about leaving your rucksack unnattended, bring it with you. Accidentally hit people on the head with it when walking past.

6. Take out money from your pocket on the way to the shop. Trip over a passenger’s bag and throw the money all over the floor. When bending down to pick it up, drop your rucksack on the arm of a young child. Attempt to ignore the evil looks from the child’s mother and apologise profusely when the child starts crying.

7. After returning from the shop, stand on another passengers foot. Accidentally fall on the person in the adjoining seat when the train suddenly wobbles.

And finally…

8. Drink the water. Accidentally choke on it, spitting it over the person next to you and in front of you. Cough like a seal for the next fifteen minutes…

To the passengers sitting on the Edinburgh train… I’m sorry.

Mr Sushi: The Eternal Mystery

ImageAfter a lovely weekend at my mum’s house (more on that it in a later post) my sister offered to drop me off at Stockport Train Station to catch my train back to Birmingham, thus bypassing two major changes and saving me about an hour of time.

In direct contrast to the journey the day before, the train was packed. I was lucky to be able to find an available seat (much to the annoyance of the rather disgruntled woman that I sat next to) but by the time I had organised myself lots of others had been forced to stand. I made myself comfortable, took out my phone and set up my playlist for the journey ahead.

In the seats opposite were a young male and female and judging by their conversation they had only just met. He was slightly older than her and a little rough around the edges, while she was quite well spoken and demure. As the journey continued it became evident that there was a mutual attraction – he joked and teased her about the car that she drove, she giggled at his silly jokes and in between a few awkward silences they both tried to ask each other questions about each others lives without appearing too desperate. He said he was 24, she claimed that she was 20 (although she looked a little younger), she explained where she had been the night before, he appeared interested and listened intently… It was very sweet.

About an hour into the journey the man pulled out the biggest box of sushi I’ve ever seen, proclaiming that he ate large amounts of it. I was a little confused by this – his efforts to impress may have been thwarted by the smell that permeated from it, but the girl seemed unfazed and the light flirting continued. Mr Sushi was obviously beginning to gain in confidence – he made a few derogatory comments about himself, thus giving her the opportunity to compliment him and then made a statement about ‘not being able to chat up a girl properly.’ Her response was, again, to giggle.

ImageAs nosey as I may sound, their conversation kept me entertained all the way to Birmingham New Street Station. Just as the train arrived and I got up to leave, I heard Mr Sushi ask for her phone number. Unfortunately, there was a huge queue of people behind me that forced me to walk off the train, and I didn’t get to hear her answer.

AARGH!!

Thus is the eternal mystery that I will never know the answer to. Did Mr Sushi get the girl’s phone number????

In my little world, I hope he did. Despite the sushi.

Picture 1: supergreenlandmarket.com
Picture 2: Casey Diggs

Zzzzzz…

ImageIt’s currently 7.00am and I am on the train up to Manchester to go and visit my mum. It’s still dark outside, there’s a heavy mist in the air and there are just three of us that are in this carriage. The other two are having a deep and meaningful discussion about life and keep quoting motivational phrases at each other. Normally, I like these sorts of thoughts and must have thousands of inspirational messages saved onto my computer, but at this time in a morning I would rather they shut up, or at least conduct their discussion at a normal volume – Brian Blessed would be proud of their current efforts.

I’m not a morning person. In an ideal world, the very early hours of the morning are when I would be at my most productive, but I’m resigned to the fact that any sort of focus at work would be impossible if I don’t have a minimum of eight hours sleep every night.

Meh.

However, the journey to the station proved to be quite an interesting one. Even at 6am there were still lots of people walking around in their clubbing outfits from the night before and some had obviously started to feel the effects of consuming their entire bodyweight in alcohol. One particular girl was stumbling around outside the station in a dress that was so short it barely covered her bottom. She had taken her enormously high shoes off and had made the intelligent decision not to bring a coat on one of the coldest nights of the year so she was shivering violently. She was alone and looked miserable, so I asked her if she was ok and was she able to get home. She looked at me with a death stare and replied:

“Yeah. F*ck off and mind your own business.”

Nice. As I started to walk away a car pulled up and I heard the girl yelling, “Where the f*ck have you been? I’m freezing my f*cking t*ts off here!”

Classy bird.

The Motivational Speakers and I have been joined by a young Asian woman, who has promptly fallen asleep in the chair opposite mine. Her expression is hilarious – her head is almost on the arm of the seat and her mouth is wide open. She isn’t dribbling yet, but it’s only a matter of time…

I’ve got an hour to go yet, so I think it’s time for some entertainment. Candy Crush, anyone?