Friday, November 11, 2011

3 Things That Can Happen On Trains

On a recent weekend foray to the capital I found myself waiting for a train at Paddington station.

The screen said I had about five minutes until the train was due to arrive so I looked for a free seat and settled down with a well-thumbed novel and a coffee that was hotter than the surface of the sun.

As I was waiting, the train prior to mine pulled into the station. It wasn’t a busy time of day and only a few people boarded and alighted, however one particular passenger caught my eye.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this passenger wasn’t of the opposite sex, it wasn’t even of the same species, however with the doors still open as the train diligently waited, I watched as a pigeon strutted along the platform before hopping through the train’s open doors and into an empty carriage.

I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed this strange occurrence but I appeared to be a lone witness.

With three minutes to go before my train was due to arrive I began to wonder if the pigeon knew what fate lay in-store for him and low and behold a bleeping noise signified that the doors were just about to close.

Alongside the beeping noise I heard a different sound, the sound of click-clacking at a fast pace. I turned to my left to see a young woman descending the stairs at great haste, obviously attempting to board the train that was just about to leave.

The woman leapt the last two steps with the grace of a gazelle avoiding photographers on their safari holidays and just as the doors were closing, like a contestant on the Hole in the Wall game, she dived into the carriage literally seconds before the train began to move.

Photo Credit
At that moment the woman’s thought process must have gone something like:

‘Yaaay, I made the train’

‘Arrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhh, why is there a pigeon flying at my head?’

As I watched the train pull out of the station with a woman cowering in horror as a pigeon flew at her head, I began to consider other annoying things to happen on train journeys and although I had only three minutes until my train arrived I managed to think of three. One a minute that’s not too bad.

Photo Credit
You get stuck behind Ben Fogle
We’ve all been there. You’ve found a seat, you’ve got your newspaper out and you’re just about to devour a particularly interesting article on the latest Woody Allan film when you hear a sound that strikes fear into your heart.

Be it the Nokia ring tone, a dreamy piece of classical music or the sound of a fox mating, there’s nothing more excruciating than knowing that for the next ten minutes you’re going to have to listen to a stranger talk quite openly about their life.

The worst thing is that you’ve just caught a glimpse of your fellow passenger’s head and it’s none other than do-gooder Ben Fogle who has probably just returned from one of his latest adventure tours and you’re going to have to literally re-live every step of his journey as he recounts the trials and tribulations combined with what time he expects to be arriving for tea.

The guard turns out to be Carol Vorderman
It’s all going so well. You find an empty window seat and are happily immersed in a book when suddenly you hear those fateful words: “Tickets please!” Safe in the knowledge that you have purchased aforementioned ticket you rummage around in your pocket and holding the tiny piece of card aloft you look up at the looming uniformed figure only to discover, to your horror, that it’s none other than mathematical fascist Carol Vorderman.

For the next ten minutes Vorderman decides to quiz you on various mathematical equations based around train speed, distance and velocity until you’re left to feel as small as an eight year old’s gnawed pencil.

The child kicking the seat behind you is actually a kangaroo
It’s a busy carriage however, you’ve managed to find the last remaining seat next to a passenger who is not very large and isn’t possessive about the arm rest. Now all that’s left to do is settle back for the next three hours as you’re transported to the rolling countryside of rural England. But then, just as you almost feel that sleep could be a possibility you feel a thump in your back and then another and another before finally it feels like Mike Tyson’s back there hammering away like a pneumatic drill.

You spin round to discover that low and behold you’re sitting in front of a child kangaroo that appears to be on day release from London zoo. Unable to communicate to the mother who is just tutting and hissing, you have to turn back and suffer the constant banging that may or may not result in your back being permanently paralysed before you get north of Watford.

Jim is an avid traveller with a passion for seeing the world and sharing his experiences online.