Friday, 11 November 2011

Early Sunday afternoon

Hungover and feeling sorry for myself I have just boarded a train for the final leg of a long journey. I am sitting across from an older man who has dressed for Sunday. When I’m his age I’ll dress for Sunday I think to myself.

As I open my paper I look up. A woman has appeared by my seat. The train is less than half full and very silent.

“Excuse me” she says to the middle aged woman who is seating adjacent to me.
“Where is the toilet on this train?” she asks.

“I don’t know. I’m ever so sorry” the middle aged woman replies.

The toilet seeking lady looks at me.

I look up. She has thin hair and hasn’t put her make up on very well.

“I don’t think there are any toilets” I say. I want to add an ‘ever-so-sorry’ but on
account of my Irishness and hangover I don’t think I’ll pull it off, so I don’t.
The woman stares back at me. My eyes creep back to my paper.


She remains standing, over my shoulder. I can hear her bladder filling but admit it’s probably the hangover.

Finally, a fat man, bless him, pipes up and confirms she’ll have to hold.
“Gosh something or other” she says.

She’s speaking to us like we’re all in it together, strangers on a train bound by shared experience. We’re not though.

She sits back down.

How rude I think. This woman has totally ruined my trip. How am I supposed to enjoy my hangover and newspaper knowing this lady’s is bursting for the toilet? I mean how bad is it? Should I put some paper down?

I try to forget about it but can’t. Her shifting is right in my eye-line. Reading the Sundays with a hangover is hard enough without all of this I think.

The train stops. We’re not at a station. This could be a disaster.

The driver makes an announcement apologising for the delay. He’ll keep us informed he says.

We all look at the woman. She gives a squirmy smile.

I sigh and wish I didn’t know she was dying for a piss.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Monday, a few minutes before rush hour

The life of a commuter is full of many things; stress, Angry Birds, influenza. The diet of a commuter is not, stir fry, pasta, chicken Kiev, the list of week night dinners is not a long one.

Casseroles, curries or any other dish that requires any real cooking time rarely makes it to the school night dinner table of the London commuter. Not today though. Today I have finished work on time and have all the ingredients needed for a chicken casserole with tomato and cider recipe I was given.

The train is mostly full but my usual seat is free and I slide into the window seat. Across from me sit an elderly couple. They must be in their 70s. He looks like a cross between Martin Sheen and Murray Walker and is wearing a flat cap, a green jacket and dark green cord trousers. She has a slightly camel looking face, in a charming way, and wears a cream overcoat, leather gloves and wine coloured trousers. She carries an umbrella and a large handbag. They both wear poppies.

As I sit down I quickly take out my headphones to make sure the noise doesn’t bother them. They have been talking about the crowds on the train.

“It’s going home time, almost” she says, looking at her watch.

“Yes” he replies, giving her a smile.

He pauses and then leans into her.

“We’re going home with the workers”

They both smile and he leans back into his seat still smiling. It’s all very sweet. I go back to my book and they continue to chit chat to one another.

“Downton” I hear the lady say.

“It’s funny what they did”

I fumble for my headphones.

“Not really funny but…” she continues.

I have been avoiding Twitter and conversation with colleagues all day so as not to find out who snuffs it in the last Downton Abbey of the series and now…

I quickly press PLAY. Ghostpoet fills my ears. I lay back still ignorant and my evening’s entertainment unspoiled and think about the direction my life, full of casserole and period drama, has taken.