I've always loved travelling by train, but don't do it very often these days. Yesterday I travelled up to York to meet my mum and sister (they live in Scarborough) for some chat and some shopping, although rather more chatting than shopping got done, which suited me fine. Lordy, it was cold though.
Getting to King's Cross - the first leg of the journey - at rush hour was an eye-opener. I've never done it before. Once everyone was stuffed into the carriage it became a home from home. These people were clearly professional passengers. The minute we set off laptops were fired up, newspapers flapped open, books raised, folders dragged out, noses picked and breakfasts eaten (the last two counted as one activity in some cases).
I half expected a television in the corner to start blaring out GMTV and someone to pop their head round the door and shout "Right then! Anyone fancy a cuppa?" Which I would have, as it happened. What I didn't hear for the entire time I was on that train, was anyone utter a single, solitary, humanoid word. At one point, I felt like jumping up and shouting "Nik nak paddy whack, give the dog a bone!" (what does that MEAN by the way?) but worried they might have a system for dealing with tricky passengers, and I hadn't factored in being flung from a moving train.
The National Express to York, however, was a different story. Nobody could shut-up. Not talking to each other, mind you, but into their mobile phones. The man sat opposite wanted his secretary to download a crucial PDF file for a meeting he was running late for, but didn't want her showing anyone until he got there. I didn't want to know that, but had no choice. Call me ruthless, but I switched my phone off the second I boarded. Apart from a couple of texts about arriving safely, I didn't want to make contact or be contacted. So there.
What I did do while I was being transported forth and back was work on a synopsis for t'novel, to keep me on track, and read a whole book - The Missing Person's Guide to Love by Susanna Jones. Very good it was too. That's what I really love about train journeys- you're absolved of all responsibility for a good few hours.
It would be criminal NOT to make the most of it.