Monthly Archives: October 2018

A White Old Mess

The stinging blare of my ringing phone woke me up, again, from a shattering dream.

I dreamt there was a homeless man snuggled in my arms as I rode this public convenience to a place, of only the Goddess knows where she was taking me.

Andrew, it says on my phone. My useless husband. Calling, to find out where I am? Why I haven’t come home? I doubt it. Probably calling to find out where his Mother’s antique terrine serving spoon has disappeared. I know where I’d like to deposit it, but I think his mother wouldn’t approve.

All this because I wanted to spend an afternoon with Sandra and have a few glasses of bubbles on a Wednesday afternoon. Where is the crime of a few cheeky glasses of bubbles delivered on a tray by my handsome waiter, Georgi? Oh Georgi, where are you now?

That acrid stench from earlier has returned to haunt my nostrils. There he is, the man of my dreams, or more poignantly, the man in my dreams. Nightmare. Sitting in First Class, giving me fisheye holding a brown paper bag, inside it, a glass bottle with its own special brew. Lifting it in the air to suggest we pick up from where we left off. Thankfully, I can’t remember where we left off, little lone where we first started.

To drive my message home I throw the chocolate biscuit and leftover Wotsits from my hair, in his general direction. I’m not a subtle woman. It’s part of my charm. My direct approach once captured the imagination of my Andrew, now he hides in his garage dressed for afternoon tea, sawing pieces of wood as he builds his tree beehive.

My new mate stands, blurts his black-yellow stained tongue at me, spital flys through the air, falling to the ground well before it finds its target. He turns and stumbles away, back to the rock he crawled out from under.

I’ve come to a realisation, having wished I’d taken up my useless husband’s suggestion of taking a taxi home and fending off their lascivious behaviour and hideous hairy hands. Still, I can get myself a drink and sit back and watch the world go by. Where is that woman?

The train continued on its mysterious journey, gently stampeding through the countryside, towards a sea of white.

Outside the light changed from a dull yellow to a greyish green/blue, almost pure white. The multiple coloured landscape is suddenly replaced by a stark landscape of white.

Snow. Where is my taxi, now? Why am I heading towards snow? Yes, it’s been cold, hence that rancid smell of a man taking refuge in this public convenience, but snow?!

I can feel a stern, considered worded complaint letter drafting in the back of my mind to the operator of this public convenience. I’ll gather as much evidence as I can, but look out.

A sudden bang from underneath my carriage, a jerk of the train and then silence from the engines, yet the train continues to move forward. I can smell a burning metal type of stench. I look about, but can’t see my vagrant mate. The train is slowing down, the snow making it difficult for the train to move forward.

Silence. Utter silence, except the wind’s gale force pressing against the windows. The lights go out.

Is this my punishment for gossiping with Sandra the moment when Frannie’s wheelchair-bound father finds out about his wife’s 6-month affair with her fitness instructor?

– Harriet

Last Safe Seat

There is no way I can be seen. It’s dark, a tight space and alone in the back corner of the last train carriage. There is only one way in, ahead of me. Behind me is the Conductor’s cabin and his door is locked. My bag sits on the seat next to me, eliminating any possibility of blocking my escape. It goes against my grain, stopping someone in need of a seat is utterly against everything I stand for, well, of some of the things I stand for. I stand for a lot of things, especially those things against humanity. We need to look after each other on this lonely planet spinning around in the same circle, each day.

Today, I have to think of self-preservation. This isn’t conducive to being a responsible public transport passenger. I know there are others to think of. Today, I strongly feel I must look after myself and I must be resilient. I’ve seen the outcome of those thinking of others when some think of themselves, and these are the very few on our planet, and today I join the ranks of those few.

It’s a dark and sombre place where I find myself. A safe space. A comfortable place and to my right is the window of the train. Nothing can see me, as I hide with a view of passing fields, homes and people standing on platforms. The gentle sway of the train comforts me, but I have decided I can’t let my guard down as I keep myself safe. It’s more about not letting my guard down when it is about protecting myself. I’m of an age where I am expected to take care of myself and a time when everyone is looking after themselves. We’re all too busy trying to get through the day.

I have to be brave, even though there is a smell of hot, sweaty suit pants emanating from the man sitting in front of me. It’s not as bad as the woman who eat a plate of eggy tuna on the train in the middle of the summer heat. It’s not as bad as the pretty girl who picked her nose on the way to London. It’s bearable, but I have to make it bearable as the alternative is not acceptable and I have to be brave.

The scratchy material of the train seat stings my fragile skin. The black stains merging into the seat fabric is somewhat disconcerting, but as I don’t know what they are, I try not to fixate on them. They look like black tare from the road, but who is to say what they are. It’s clear someone had a cheese sandwich here in the past few days or hours, one can never truly tell about these things.

The underneath of the tray table is something I will have to write to the Train operator about. The state of this dangerous health and safety offence, is exactly that, offensive. A congealed collection of drained fluids from multiple, unrecognisable sources. And of course, and why not, the obligatory pieces of discarded chewing gum. At least two of them have clear fingerprint impressions and with the right detective work and man-hours, the offenders could be placed in gaol for this offensive behaviour.

Today, I’m not wearing my headphones to block out the sounds of my fellow passengers’ incessant babble, as I have to keep an ear open for station announcements. This pain alone sends shivers throughout my skin, akin to the beating pain of a shin splint. Yet, sacrifices need to be undertaken for these strained circumstances.

The train conductor towers over me as he attempts to gain my attention, to inquire if I am “OK”, as he indelicately puts it. I’m sure my fellow passengers are eager to ascertain who the Conductor is talking to and the motivation behind my actions.

My only let down is not remembering to bring a blanket or some type of sheeting to place on the floor as I hide underneath the filthy tray table at the back of the last carriage of the train, travelling to work on this overly awkward Monday morning.

– Malcolm

Sick (Sex) On The Beach

O.M.G! O.M.G! Seriously, O.M.G! I went on holidays, on a plane. And now I’m back on the train, going home. Kill me now. I’m so embarrassed.

I actually made it. I actually made it to Heathrow last week from that nightmare train full of stupid suits. And not only did I actually make it to Heathrow, I spent a long number of brilliant tropical sunlight hours sunning myself on the beach. And not only did I sun myself on a tropical beach, I also got to have my favourite cocktail, Sex On The Beach served up by a hunky local named, Francisco. He was hunky, very attractive and he kept bringing the cocktails.

I WhatsApp Pippa a selfie with Francisco, from the beach. She didn’t get it. I sent a photo of me having Sex On The Beach and she sent me a selfie of her and the girl she likes at the cafe she goes to, to read her books. Pippa thinks she’s so amazing and so intelligent, but I’m the one with Francisco and his cocktails on the tropical beach.

When she sent me a selfie from the cafe, I replied with, “☀️☀️☀️”.

Pippa messaged me one word about this girl from the cafe, “Date”. Yawn. I’m on a beach and you’re in a cafe. So, I told her Francisco and I were having a date.

I have my suitcase with me, my broken suitcase. The handle is falling off and the wheels are broken. Baggage handlers. I saw them from my plane seat window, throwing everyone’s bags about. My hand luggage, well, the largish overhead cabin locker-bag, and my handbag stayed safe with me on the plane.

My phone just pinged. It’s Pippa, again, dying with jealousy, wanting to know all the gory details. I’m not going to tell her Francisco gave me too much Sex On The Beach, a pounding three-day migraine, severe sunburn, a hangover from hell and the weeping blisters on my legs. I don’t recommend passing out on a lounge chair in the sunshine, on a tropical beach after having Sex On The Beach.

The train is moving rapidly from side to side, rocking my head, turning my stomach as the other passengers, a whole raft of stupid suits staring at me with my red, peeling face and blotchy skin. My hair hurts. I just want to die. It would be less painful and less embarrassing. One man in his three-piece zoot suit stands in the doorway, swaying from side to side as his stiff felt wide brim hat shadows his face. It’s creepy. He’s watching me from afar but also looking straight through me. He looks like a giant wedding cake decoration, without the bride, or another groom, depending on your bent.

We stop at a random station to pick up more passengers. Some get off. My broken suitcase and hand luggage hide me from the brunt of the other suits. Why is it only suits who get on my train? Where are the normal people?

My phone just pinged. Oh God, I fell asleep again. Ugh! What is it with train travel and falling asleep. It’s Pippa, again. “U @ 🏠”.

“No. 🚂.”, I replied. I’m not inviting Pippa to meet me at the station to pick me up or greet me. I can’t let her see me like this.

Next year I’m going to Margate with Mummy and Daddy.

This is so unfair. FML.

– Nancy

A Victoria Sponge Lesson

Mike is back on the platform after a spell taking care of his mother. She’s an old stalwart and feisty woman. Bless her. She sent Mike back to the station with a tray of Battenberg, Maderia and Victoria Sponge with a Chelsea Bun for yours truly. She’s a good woman, is Mike’s mother; would give you her last penny if she thought you needed it.

Roland, Barry’s newbie thought he was well clever to be on Platform 9, Mike’s platform, a good half hour before Mike arrived. Said he was keeping Mike’s position, safe. We all know why he was there, and it wasn’t for the cakes. That in itself would’ve been a good enough reason, but, no, it was because Roland, over there, was writing down all of the unique train identifiers of the new Siemens rolling stock. The sod. He wanted to show off. He thinks being all pally with Mike is going to wash over? Mike won’t be fooled.

Sunday roast with Mother last weekend brought it all out in the open. Mother makes a cracking roast beef and potatoes; we’re not racists. She almost caused a riot by pretending she forgot the Yorkshire puddings and gravy. You could’ve cut the air with a knife. A strange sense of humour that woman, but I see where I get my cracking sense of humour from. Mike and his mother were sitting opposite when it came out, what that newbie, had been up to. My dear old mum spat out some of her white wine, back into her glass when she heard the news. Sunday is the only day she has one glass of white wine with the Sunday roast. She says, ‘If the good Lord above can have a rest day, so can I.’

Mike handed out the cakes at Platform 9 to the rest of our Hive. He kept the Chelsea Bun for me, of course, and when the Newbie put his hand out to receive a slice, Mike handed him a condensed copy of, Ian Allen’s train number book. That sliced right through his smug face. By his look, the embarrassment of admitting he’d been bragging about collecting numbers from buses, taxis and planes, put him back in his place. And, worse still, no Anorak. You can’t teach young people the simple things.

Vincent won our friendly competition the other week. He cleverly captured a number of train identifiers before my good self and Melvin. Now, we all know Melvin is a little compulsive and enjoys the art of debate, to put it politely. He argued the toss about one train identifier and a five-second difference between his time recording and Vincent’s time. In the end, due to the written facts, the award went to Vincent. Fair play and all that.

Next month is the annual National Railway Museum Awards in Yorkshire. We are making plans to travel up to Yorkshire for the night. I’m putting care plans in place to accommodate Mother’s needs. I’m tipped to win the Most Consistent Carriage Identifiers and Mike the Sensibly Dressed Spotter, and the Best Numerical Identifiers. Lucky devil to be nominated for both categories. Of course, the Newbie has been removed from the nominations because of the scandal surrounding the unique train identifiers of the new Siemens rolling stock. Shocking behaviour.

Some of the Hive are up in arms over this scandal and are calling for a town hall meeting to discuss the Newbie’s actions. I am conflicted; I see what the lads are saying, but I also have to uphold our constitution. It’s a sticky situation.

I best get myself started and prepare for the peak. It’s been a strange day, in the sense there was a young man loitering about the end of the platform. As I approached my position he made a hastened exit back to the cafe. I’m not saying he’s one for the Samaritans, might just be an interested person in Trainspotting. It’s an amazing hobby with a band of lads behind you. But with his European look about him, I doubt he’d be interested in our British past-time. You know, with Brexit and all that about to kick off.

– Phil