Travelling to Work

It takes me just 14 minutes to walk from my house to the station. On Friday, it was the longest 14 minutes of my life. I was not halfway down the road when the Heavens opened. By the time I reached the station I was absolutely drenched.

Didn’t I know it was going to rain? Yes, of course, I had seen the weather forecast. But I wasn’t expecting it to rain quite so early in the day, nor quite so heavily. Showers, they had said on the BBC, my main source of reference for these things.

If your definition of a shower is hard, pelting rain that comes down like stair rods, almost like hail but not quite, that only lasts about 8 minutes, then yes, I suppose it was a shower. That is not, by the way, my definition of a shower.

Anyway, I survived that particular ordeal and arrived at the station somewhat bedraggled, but ready for the next step in my journey. As it’s the school holidays, the trains are not too crowded at the moment. My preference is usually to sit at the end of the carriage, out of everyone’s way, except for those who think it is a jolly jape to steam through the carriages. However, on this occasion, the window was wide open. If I sat by the window when it was raining, I knew from experience that there was a strong chance that I would get wet as the rain was blown into the carriage.

Why didn’t I close the window, I hear you ask? Well, that is often easier said than done. Some of those windows are really stiff and I find them impossible to close. And anyway, you will recall that I was still soaking wet and wanted the air to circulate to help dry me off. I had no desire to spend the entire day with a wet bottom. I sat a little further down the carriage.

There was a chap a bit further along, talking to himself very loudly. Actually, on further inspection, he was talking on his ‘phone with the hands free thingy. Years ago, we London travellers would have avoided anyone who spoke to themselves like the plague. It was always a sign that they were mentally ill. (Ok, back in the day we’d have called them “nutters” but I am far too politically correct for that now.)

I’ve encountered more than my fair share of them over the years. I remember vividly travelling home on a number 38 bus one day. My hair was in a chestnut coloured bob at the time (it’s relevant, believe me. What happened wouldn’t have happened if I’d looked the way I do now). I was reading a newspaper, and I do tend to get quite engrossed when I’m reading, to the extent that I’ve even missed my stop before now. Anyway, eventually I became aware of a woman sitting behind me who said something like,

“You Asians, you come over here and take our jobs…..” Moan, moan, moan.

To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention, just vaguely wondered who was the target of her venom. I’m a bit on the pale side, and if I get mistaken for any nationality, it’s usually Dutch. Must be something to do with the clogs I suppose. Anyway, the droning on behind me continued and I heard something about “reading a newspaper.” That stopped me in my tracks. I turned around. The moaning woman gaped in horror as she stared into my baby blues.

“Oh, you’re not……. are you?”

“No, I’m not, although I’m not sure exactly what difference that makes?”

The woman didn’t answer me but she did get off at the next stop.

Back to Friday’s journey. I changed trains at the mainline interchange. The trains are air conditioned and, if the connection is there when the first train pulls in, it’s quicker. The carriage was almost empty, which was good for me, because I wanted to write this blog post. Except for the fact that other occupant in the carriage was chewing gum. You know the sort, don’t you? Open mouthed and very, very noisy. Really? I am not a dentist and do not wish to inspect your teeth. My mother would have slapped me if I’d done that as an adult, never mind as a child. I do realise that you can’t eat chewing gum in an elegant or stylish fashion, I really do, but honestly, can’t people hear themselves? It’s disgusting.

Which leads me on to my next rant du jour, but you’ll have to wait for my next post for that one.


©Susan Shirley 2014

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