Friday, 20 April 2012

Strangers on a Train... To Watford

I boarded a train at King’s Langley in 1978. Nothing remarkable in that, you might say other than the fact that I’m old enough to have done so. I, with my sister and mother was, as usual, late and we ran for the train. Out of breath- panting like puppies who’d rediscovered their tails and had been trying to catch them for the previous ten minutes, we flopped into the available seats in the crowded second class carriage. I note the class for reasons that will hopefully become clear.

My mum, bless her, had an uncanny ability to pick fights with perfect strangers and this occasion was no exception. We wanted the window open and the apparently un-aristocratic, fairly pretty young lady sitting opposite wanted it shut. Imagine my surprise when, after some heated exchanges, which looked like they might soon come to blows, between her and my mother, she cried “…anyway how dare you talk to me when we haven’t even been formally introduced!”

Formal introductions were definitely out of vogue even as long ago as that.

The timing of this encounter (which, by the way, appeared to be quite entertaining to the other passengers judging by their smirks and sniggers) was such that, shortly before arriving at our station, the young lady (having made no progress with my mother) turned to me; I had kept entirely out of the discussion until then.

I forget precisely what she said but she was clearly keen to try and recruit my services as another antagonist. The retort usually only occurs to me hours later. But this time it came to me in a flash; so, in my poshest pompously pretentious pronounciation I said “Do you mind? I’m not responsible for my family’s actions. I’ve never been so insulted in all my life!”

And got off the train.

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