Monday, 23 March 2009

Odd behaviour on trains...

Well, last Monday I had to go to Doncaster for a meeting. I had to take the train, because the local authority I work for won't pay car mileage to travel outside of West Yorkshire.

I didn't mind, I quite like train travel and was pleased to discover that I was travelling in an almost empty carriage on my outward journey. I had settled my self down with my magazine and cup of coffee when, lo and behold, there was a woman stood looking very pointedly down at my bag on the seat beside me, intimating that she wanted me to move it so she could sit down. She didn't say anything, she just kept looking at the bag and looking at me.

What.....? The carriage was nearly empty, she had about thirty other seats to choose from and she wanted to sit right beside me. Why?!

I was feeling a bit Monday morning-ish so I somewhat ungraciously moved my bag onto my lap and let her sit down beside me. No sooner had she done so than, being now somewhat cramped, I managed to spill the remainder of my coffee all over the table (thanks, missus, I was enjoying that drink). I said "Damn!", rather loudly, and she promptly got up and went into the next carriage, leaving me scratching my head and yearning for the rest of my coffee.....

As if that wasn't enough, on the journey home I was with three of my colleagues. We wanted to sit together as we only meet up every six months and it's good to catch up. We walked through quite a bit of the train in search of suitable seating and finally found a spot. There was a man sitting across the gangway from us, who commented something to the effect that he had "thought he'd got the carriage to himself". We must have mumbled something in response but sat down anyway, since it wasn't one of the designated "Quiet" carriages.

We were soon deep in conversation but as our journey progressed I became acutely aware that our neighbour was listening to everything we were saying. And he was making no attempt to conceal the fact, he just kept looking across at us with undisguised interest. Two of my colleagues had their backs to him but even they felt uncomfortable - that old psychological trick of staring intently at the back of someone's head to make them turn round certainly works!

It wasn't even as if our conversation was particularly riveting. OK, it was of interest to us but I wouldn't have thought it would have captured a total stranger's attention for more than a few moments! I became so uncomfortable that eventually I withdrew from the conversation altogether and studied the view from the window instead. Perhaps I was over-reacting but boy, was I glad to reach my stop!!


  1. did you ever see the sketch by ben elton? rapid fire "got to get a middle seat, middle seat, middle seat" - his theory being if you got a middle seat, nobody would dare sit next to you. obviously it didn't work for you!

  2. I remember this! Although I remember it as 'double seat, double seat, got to get a double seat' and even to this day whenever I get on a train this little tune goes through my head!

  3. I remember this too!! I used to *love* watching Ben Elton, so incredibly funny, but I haven't seen him for ages - I think he must be just writing books now instead of doing live comedy.

  4. i like derren browns trick of actually patting the seat, no one will sit on it if you're too eager to please. i always get sat next to the weirdos, the last one told me off for not looking at the countryside out the window. I live in the Lakes theres countryside everywhere.