Wednesday, 12 November 2008


I am snuffling annoyingly, but as I am at home today it doesn't seem so bad somehow. And it's not raining, which is nice.

You do see some types on the train, though, don't you? There was a woman sat next to me on Monday night who should win some sort of award for "Most Tiresome Traveller".

She was middle aged, determinedly blonde in a "Hey, I still have great looks, everyone" kind of way, and dressed like I used to when I was about 15. She had strategically placed her bags and coats all over two seats, trying to stop anyone from sitting next to her, and had her head down, ignoring all the passengers as they got onto the train.

Ahah. I don't fall for that ploy any more. Taking a leaf out of a chap's book who I had watched with admiration that very morning, I said "Shall I put those up on the rack for you?" as I started taking off my coat, and making it obvious I was going to sit there. She looked at me in frank dismay and started gathering up all her stuff, obviously not pleased that I was going to be joining her.

But, if she wants two seats, she can pay for two seats, is what I say. Well, thought. But she could read it in my body language I think.

Anyhoo. She cleared all her stuff away and I sat down, intending to read my book. FidgetWoman was writing letters, or postcards or something, and gradually twisted herself round in the seat till she was sticking her fat arse into me, in a manner I would have thought over familiar in my best friend.

I responded by fidgeting right back at her, putting in my iPod and shuffling around till she realised she was encroaching. She muttered an apology as she sat up straight again. I was tempted to pull the middle armrest down in a challenging and decisive manner, but that seemed a bit too overtly rude. She went back to her writing (she had really stupid handwriting, all big loops and twiddly bits, probably signed her name with a heart over it, not that I was looking), spreading her pens, notebooks, cards and assorted crap all over the table, much to the annoyance of the girl opposite who was trying to read some big serious looking work papers.

After what felt like about 17 hours of this, she excused herself and headed off to the toilet*, meaning I had to wake up from my half-doze and stagger to my feet so she could get past me.

When she came back, I went to stand up but she said "No, no, I'll sit here..." and slid into an empty seat across the aisle. Heh. My "I hate you and everything you stand for" body language is coming on a treat.

After a bit she decided she needed all her bags and crap, so leaned right over the table to pick them up. I offered to move again, but she said "No, it's fine, it's fine," in a flustered manner. The girl opposite and I shared A Look.

Eventually, FidgetWoman had gathered up all her stuff, and as she dragged it across the table, something wet and sticky in one of the bags sprayed all over all three of us. I looked at her in stunned amazement, clearly giving her the "How can anyone be that fucking stupid?" face I do so well.

The girl opposite silently wiped her papers with one hand, then fetched a clean tissue from her bag and wiped her face, before continuing with her reading. Every now and again we shared another Look.

I examined my bag (splattered), my suit (unmarked, or she'd have been stuffed out of the window into the middle of Wiltshire head first) and my beautiful scarf (covered in fuck knows what). Rather than emitting a loud cry of rage and strangling her with it, as I wanted to do, I merely *tch*ed, folded it up and put it in my bag.

It's great being British.

I did amuse myself by watching FidgetWoman's attempts to pretend she was relaxed and happy for the rest of the journey, though. Heh.

Other odd things I saw on the train this week:

1) A large amount of what looked like hemp rope, neatly coiled up in the middle of the track.

2) A small dead greenfinch in the corridor between two carriages. The guard walked down, spotted it, said "Aha! A freeloader!", picked it up by one claw (the bird's not his, he had normal hands as far as I could tell) and flung it into a secret guard alcove in the corridor. Perhaps to add to the stewpot for supper that night, who knows?

3) A middle aged chap in a mostly respectable work outfit, carrying a battered skateboard to use for the rest of his commute.

*Well, I assumed that's where she went. She might have been looking for a contract killer in need of a quick job.


justme said...

Hee Hee! The joys of commuting. I smile VERY sweetly when I make people move there coats, bags etc so that I can sit down! I mean what on earth are they thinking? That I should STAND through the journey so that they dont have to move their stuff?? and actually I DO pull the arm rest thing down. And poke them HARD when their large selves encroach over the line. Some of these morons can't set their own bounderies..... Ooooh....I can get childish on trains....
Am thinking maybe the guard had a cat at home? Possibly?

badgerdaddy said...

I love travelling on trains, but they do help me often to remember why I don't love people so much.

B.E. Earl said...

My own word that I use for people of diminutive stature is "fidget". Got it a long time ago from an Our Gang comedy. They called a baby who was really a midget a fidget and it just stuck.

So I thought this post was gonna be about midgets.

See how my brain works?

The Grocer said...

Train journeys would be a joy were it not for other folk.Nice observations and congratulations on identifying the species, I think you need to add 'Roadkill' into your interests and join the other 54 of us ;)

livesbythewoods said...

justme, I am rapidly getting better at that kind of stuff. The guard looke dlike he not only had a cat but probably also several large dogs. He was quite rustic looking.

Badgerdaddy, most people are complete bastards. Not us, though, obviously.

Earl, yes. Yes I do. And I am both impressed and dismayed by that.

Grocer man, I just might do that. We live on roadkill in the WithaY household some weeks.

Mr Farty said...

Buses are just as bad, although a cunning ruse if you want two seats to yourself is, when you see someone approaching, leer and pat the seat beside you in an inviting manner. Always works for me.

Or maybe it only works for me?

Z said...

I think it's you, Mr F. I have this unintentionally friendly face, so people always seem to put spare children next to me.