The wonders of British Train Travel
It would appear that travelling on a train in Britain is becoming more and more difficult. For some; its an everyday struggle. The price of travelling on public transport is continually rising. It would appear that it can cost up to the price of a small farm animal to travel on a British train.
I will not get into it – but the metaphorical suggestion of a small animal is quite apt, because the experiences I have had on trains is similar to visiting a petting zoo.
For one there are never enough carriages, everyone is squashed.
Let me paint a wonderful picture…no matter where you are, whether you and the rest of your wonderful fellow passengers have managed to get a seat or are left standing up: the experience is the same.
During your train travel experience you are most likely to experience at least one of the below:
- it smells of swear because air conditioning is broken
- someone chatting extremely loudly on the phone
- prams that contain screaming babies (who sadly are usually brats for some reason)
- sticky toddlers stuffing their faces with quavers
- bikes propped up – these generally fall over when the train jolts and stops abruptly. (I have actually been hit several times by other peoples bikes falling over and have received somewhat cumbersome bruising. I then thank the genius person that invented those rather funny fold up bikes – I secretly laugh at people for having them- but in terms of train travel – they are ok.)
Then you have those people who sit in or under the luggage racks – depending on the train, where it is going and whether there is a large amount of women who have over packed for a weekend at their friends, parents or partners – 5 pairs of shoes is not OK for three days.
Of course my first choice is to sit in a seat – however I have been known to sit in a luggage rack when there is no sitting or standing space.
The other annoyance in the space front is the wondrous 1st class section which lends itself to nearly 1/4 of the train carriage! It is always empty… nobody sits in there. But if you sit in there you get a fine if you don’t have the right ticket. Bloody madness.
I was on my way to Leeds to see my best friend Chloe. I boarded the train at Leicester where I found that there was no room at the inn in terms of seating. The prospect of standing for the two and a half hour journey was neither appealing or was going to happen.
The luggage rack had of course a rack to place luggage and then a space underneath for large suitcases, children, dogs and any other emotional baggage one has these days.
I slipped underneath and made myself at home with my book, some coffee and a delightful snack, usually sushi for some reason – excellent snack.
Unfortunately half way through the journey a rather large man who had an impressive beer belly – he had obviously invested a large amount of time growing it – perched on the luggage rack opposite mine. I was then greeted with a view of his delightful belly button that poked out every time the train jolted – due to his ill fitting t-shirt. He would smile down at me in a leering manner – I felt most uncomfortable.
Then to add insult to injury I was then joined at the next stop by two teenagers who squeezed underneath my luggage rack. I was then faced with being continuously elbowed as they took self portraits of themselves (selfies as they are otherwise known as) together and then proceed to YES upload them on facebook labeling them: My train Journey.
I was thankful to leave the train: Just before I jumped off I was greeted with this horrific entrepreneurial quick fix to life.
Yes, a hanging bike rack – may I ask how you get your bike up there?
I can barely lift my bike up a kerb let alone, lift it, suspend it and hook it on to this stupid contraption.
I left the train in disgust.
I travel on trains quite a lot – it easy to jump on the train home to go home and visit the parents and I don’t own a car because I currently learning to drive.
On one of my delightful trips home to see my parents – if you go during the day with a railcard it is a lot cheaper – only £10 return!! However, this time usually brings out the strangest of people.
I have managed to get a seat – I like the ones with the tables I can stretch out my legs, spread out my things on the table and pretend to be intelligent, intellectual and studious (well i did that when I was a student – whip out an academic people – yeahhhh people’s eyebrows go up)
Let me paint a picture:
Next to me and by the window (so to my left) is a woman typing on a laptop. Opposite me is a women playing on her phone. Next to the women playing on her phone is a man playing on his ipad, wearing a Nike tracksuit ensemble, wearing gold rings and drinking Stella.
The moment I sat down, I wish I had not – they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover – I know.
But 5 minutes into the journey – after I have opened by book and begun reading (note it was not educational), the tracksuit man starts trying to read the blurb on the back of my book by ducking and turning his head – moving closer and closer to the table in the middle of us. He then burst out laughing. This carries on continually for 15 minutes.
Soon he grew tired of trying to stare out my book blurb. He then moved on to the woman next to me. After taking a large slurp of Stella he actually pushed the laptop screen forward and said to the women ‘doing work is for boring people’, the women who is of course shocked rightfully ignores the man, pushes the lid back up and continues typing.
The bad man then pushed the laptop all the way down – turning it off and coursing the women to loose all her work and not being able to turn her laptop on.
But a pat on the back for her she just says calmly: ‘Please don’t do that!’
He then takes another slurp of his Stella and asks the women next to him if she would like to go back to his because he could show her a good time!
By now – I was pondering my next move – I mean do I move seats, do I tell the conductor or do I sit tight and hope he leaves at the next stop.
I dismissed the first two ideas thinking that it could cause me more trouble than it was worth and luckily to he did disembark at the next stop – but not before asking the woman next to him again back to his house.
She refused politely.
After the man had left – I stupidly announced to the train ‘Bloody hell that man was mental’
Nobody was amused.
That’s the problem with British trains – nobody is friendly!
Yet another trip down to see my parents involved an amusing experience with food and drinks trolley. It does puzzle me how the train service is allowed to get away with charging it’s customers £1 for a mars bar, £4 for a terrible sandwich which has probably traveled on the train since the early hours of the morning – poor thing it must be all sweaty and droopy by the time someone consumes it.
Anyhow: the food manager as they are called who risks death to manager and protect the food from harm during its scary journey down the carriage aisles was asking people if they wanted any food.
However, instead of just speaking in a normal voice.
This food manager broke into song – a song he had made up about the food he managed.
Due to my shock all I remember is:
‘Buy a lion bar for 80p and hear it roar’ where he subsequently roared loudly….
I was scared for life – although it did bring a smile to my face.
If you ever get on the Leicester to Stansted train – you may be in luck. You might meet a man that manages food and sings.
As a result of the last three stories I have come up with some excellent rules when travelling by trains in Britain:
- Always try and find a seat – wonder up and down the corridors if necessary to avoid children taking selfies and fat men’s belly buttons
- Buy a fold up bike – this reduces the amount of bruising to other passengers
- Pack lightly for weekend trips – leaving more room for other people’s bags and people’s bums
- Do not sit near anyone that is drinking – safe yourself
- Do not listen to loud music – i frequently ask young teenagers ‘Do you want me to sing along? I can hear every word?’
- Read and mind your own business – if you don’t you could be engaged in awkward conversation
- If you come across a food manager – apply ear plugs
- Eat smelly food like Sushi and then no one will sit next to you
- Buy a first class ticket – then you will be alone as no one else sits there
OR DON’T GET ON A TRAIN AT ALL – I WARN YOU TRAVELLING BY BUS IN BRITAIN IS WORSE.
Lady on the train: What’s that matter? Have you never made love before? (Don’t Ride on Late Night Trains, 1975)