Conversations on Trains Part 1

I’ve got one of those faces that everyone seems to want to talk to.  I’ve been known to sometimes have my headphones on even though I’m not listening to anything. Sometimes I just want to be left alone. I suppose that I don’t help myself, by answering and talking back, but that was the way I was brought up.

This happens to me quite a bit on public transport. I’m always the person who gets cornered by the happy drunk on the night bus. Now thinking about it, maybe I’m the happy drunk. No, I’ve just remembered that I don’t drink.

One time, I was caught by a drunk who on finding out that I work in IT didn’t need any W W W as he always carried his book on football grounds. I’ve also noticed that whoever I’m with seems to abandon me with the local entertainment.

Sometimes I have to wonder what friends are for?

When I first moved down to London, I spent a large amount of the time on trains going up North and coming back home. I must have been a regular for a while on the late night trains up to Yorkshire, and travelling on my own I was ripe pickings for those who wanted a chat.

I’m going to now regale you with two such journeys, rather than writing anything coherent today. I’m leaving a couple more for later in the week.

The first one, I was actually travelling with someone else. I had met up with my friend Clare to go up to Ilkley for a Student Cross reunion. Clare was quite tired, so tried to catch a quick forty winks on the way up North, so I was being quieter than I normally would have. Unfortunately, the bloke sitting opposite us wanted to talk.

It seems that he was starting a holiday where he was visiting train stations. Rather than being a train spotter he was a train station spotter. I suppose that stations are less likely to move than trains, so they are easier to spot. He wanted to see the reopened Brighouse station, and while he was up North, he was going to go around and tick off a bunch of stations he had never gone through before.

Our train was being delayed, so as we travelled slowly up North, I was getting a potted history of the places we were going through. Unfortunately, one of the other passengers wasn’t as entertained as I. He had a go at the poor bloke, because he was talking too loudly. I jumped to my new friend’s defence, saying that if he wanted quiet he could always go to the quiet coach.

This lead to a rather heated argument, but what surprised me was that most of the other passengers was jumping to our side. I think Clare managed to sleep through most of it, I think she works too hard. But all in all, I got quite a bit of entertainment out of our journey.

On another journey, I was going up to Huddersfield to see some friends. I ended up getting the last train to Leeds from London, I was sitting there minding my own business when this rather attractive young lady sat next to me. This lead to my normal reaction, of me being rather embarrassed, curling up into a ball and hoping that she didn’t notice me.

Plan A didn’t work.

She introduced herself as Lucy, and then opened with the line that she was married. For those readers who are as socially awkward as myself when someone mentions in their opening breath that they are married/engaged/seeing someone it means that there isn’t anything ulterior to the chat. Mind you, if I was too suspicious, she wouldn’t have chatted to me in the first place.

We got talking, and funnily enough she was going to her parents who lived five minutes up the road from where my friends live. We talked about the nice things in Huddersfield, and two minutes later started talking about other things.

It was one of those things where I think she wanted someone to talk to/at. The impression I was getting was that she had just moved down to London and was finding it very difficult. As I had gone through the same things myself, I was able to give some general advice, and reassured her that she’d fit in.

As the train left Doncaster we got the following news “Ladies and Gentlemen, this train is now running ten minutes late. Any passengers for Huddersfield need to stay on the train and change at Leeds.” Lucy went on the phone to her parents, and I mentally prepared myself for sitting in Leeds Station for an hour freezing my behind off.

I then heard Lucy on the phone asking her parents if it was alright for them to give her new friend a lift back to Huddersfield as well. This put me in a wee bit of a moral bind. I did try and politely decline the offer of a lift to Manchester Road from Wakefield Westgate.

It was probably the most uncomfortable half an hour of my life. I know that it was as uncomfortable for Lucy’s parents as it was for me. Fortunately, I’m very good with parents, and kept them entertained with a few of my short stories. I also saved on the taxi fare which was an added bonus.

Unsurprisingly, I haven’t seen Lucy since, so I don’t know how she settled in.

I suppose, in a parallel universe I’m probably a psychiatrist getting paid by the bucket load to listen to people telling me about their problems. Instead I do a free service on intercity trains on a Friday night. And people wonder why I don’t travel as much now.

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