Friday, 30 January 2009


I am having the day off today because it's my birthday, and I want to enjoy doing stuff just for me.

In reality this means I will do all the washing, most of the ironing, clean the place and probably go and get the shopping.

Yay me.

Last night I realised with a sad shock that I am officially invisible now. I have reached the age where people don't notice me any more. It was all most disipiriting.

I was in the office till quarter to 7, because I wanted to get what I was doing finished, so I could take today off. So I got the 7:20pm train out of Waterloo, at least an hour later than usual, and thus saw a completely different commuting crowd.

I sat at a table, and was joined by a large elderly chap, a young lady with lots of bags, and a chap who, it transpired, knew two or three other people in the carriage. They all started chatting, I put my iPod in and settled down to read my book.

Now and again I would hear snippets of the conversation through my music, and the girl opposite me smiled at me in a friendly way whenever we made eye contact, but I was too tired to want to indulge in "strangers on a train" chat, so continued reading.

After what seemed a very long time indeed, the refreshment trolley arrived. I got my purse out to buy a bottle of water; there was much rummaging for wallets and so on from pretty much everyone else around me too. The chap next to me gestured expansively at the girl, and said "After you" so she asked for a glass of wine.

As she tried to hand over her money, he said "No, no, no!" and waved his own at the trolley attendant. "I insist! Let me buy you a drink! Put that away!" etcetera etcetera.

The chap opposite then asked for a beer, which the older chap made a song and dance about paying for as well. It was all rather awkward. The trolley attendant was very patient, getting the money eventually, after lots of jokes had been made about the lack of decent whisky on the train. How he must have laughed. Inside.

Once all the palaver had died down, I asked for a bottle of water, was given it, and paid for it, at which point the girl opposite me and the younger chap looked really embarrassed. The older chap continued bragging expansively at the other two, occasionally glaring at me if I moved, thus disturbing his huge flappity arms as they lolled into my half of the seat.

So. What do you think? Was I ignored because:

(a) He assumed I was a miserable grump who didn't deserve to be offered a drink along with all the other people at the table?

(b) He simply forgot to ask me, and possibly felt terrible all the rest of the way?

(c) He was making a point that those who didn't listen attentively to his endless anecdotes were therefore not in the "offered a drink" club?

(d) I am simply invisible now, being too old and raddled to be offered a drink?

Well, anyhoo, it's my birthday. I might make myself a cake in a bit.


badgerdaddy said...

I think he probably just didn't know you at all...

I could replace Columbo with deducing like that.

Spencer said...

I would like to add (e) He respected your decision to detach yourself from the 'strangers on a train social' and therefore did not intrude upon your privacy by forcing a drink upon you.

Have a nice day, and I look forward to hearing news of the cake :)

justme said...

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope you had a lovely day and nice cake.
As to the large old chap, I think it is very amusing and am inclined to think probably (c). And really, having to listen to him would SO not have been worth it, for the sake of a a measly bottle of water. You had a lucky escape!

B.E. Earl said...

Sounds like he was just a twat.

Happy Birthday! Enjoy it.

livesbythewoods said...

Thank you for your astute analysis, all.

I have told a few mates the story and they were all horrified by the rudeness of not being offered a drink (I'd have said no thanks, but still...) and also agreed that I got off lightly by not having to listen to him.

Alan said...

You are a child of the Universe and have changed three people's lives immeasurably.....oh and all who have read this....oh and all that Universe stuff may just be b******s, or spookily not.....I'll go now. Lots of love. Alan
PS. Google alerts me to all mentions of my site, so not so spooky I should hear of it. Must be an earlier story.

livesbythewoods said...

Alan, I have a link to your website on the blog, so that's probably where it came from.