Sunday, 22 February 2015

Day 5: Describe a train journey

Day 5: Describe a train journey

I really love train journeys. I mean, really love them, even that one the day/few days before Christmas (delete as applicable) where the world and their 55 wives stage a mass festive exodus and it's breathing room only as far as the eye can see.

Especially that one.

There is something infinitely lovely about a train journey - that bubble of time and space in constant motion, suspended between place and destination - the very definition of a work in progress.

I like the romance of it all.

I like the scrolling horizon, the constantly shifting landscapes; the way you can divert your gaze for a matter of minutes and be presented with a completely different world the next time you glance out of the window.

I like the quiet solitude afforded with just a pair of headphones and a lack of internet. (Alright, sometimes self-imposed lack of internet)

All of that, and the glorious opportunity for unadulterated, unashamed people-watching, without fear of discovery, for what feels like an almost indulgent amount of time.

I like noticing the routines and rituals people have. (Pull-down table, pen, paper and tickets meticulously laid out; coat off, shoes off, snapchat, twitter, snapchat, tumblr)

Being able to eavesdrop on the briefest sliver of people's day-to-day lives, hearing the meandering conversations of everyone from long-lost lovers and old married couples, to new friends, and soon-to-be-enemies.

Hearing one side of a frantic phone conversation, or being privy to the excited anticipation of the plans, people and possibilities at the end of the train track; feeling all-but part of the mandatory group de-brief in the aftermath of a wild weekend.

It may be more accurate to say I love trains because I love the people that use them, but there are far too many exceptions that prove that rule to render it any kind of gospel.

The last train journey I took I tried some free-writing about life, about where I was heading literally, and where I am headed metaphorically but I also turned my gaze on those around me, as often is the case, with a pen in my hand.

Picture the scene: window seat, quarter to 9 on a Friday night, 1h45 in to a 2 hour train journey.
Writing on trains plays beautifully in to my romantic notions, but in reality, the pull-down table slightly too far away I cut an odd figure hunched over my notebook, resting simultaneously on lap and against window.

Don't all rush at once boys.

Please find below a verbatim retelling of some of the resulting contents of my notebook...

"As a side note, I wonder if my writing in a notebook makes people feel nervous, in that same way as when you catch someone holding their phone in such a way that convinces you they couldn't possibly just be swiping through shuffle, or Tinder. Then again, maybe other people aren't as paranoid as I am. Or are they?
The guy who has just sat down next to me is scribbling through some sort of hideously complex-looking mathematical equation. We are tandem scribblers.
I guess he has the right to feel a bit paranoid that I might be writing about him.
Because I am.
There is however also part of me paranoid that he will read over my shoulder, or glance in the reflection of the window I'm sitting against. Maybe life is just a series of differing levels of paranoia. (Insert pithy remark about the unexamined life here)
If this were any kind of rom-com worth its salt, "Maths man" would have been reading over my shoulder this whole time. I would have noticed, and coyly, knowingly, written something appreciative or playfully dismissive about his appearance/demeanor/right earlobe that would prompt an audible reaction or some kind of leaned-in, witty-but-charged retort.
In reality however, such is my contorted position, I couldn't even tell you what he looks like, save for the fact that in the very outer limits of my field of vision he appears to be wearing some kind of leather-esque jacket.
In short, we will soon be wed.
Expect your invitations in the post."

Ooh look, Newport."


  1. Your ability to capture the exact essence of something is truly astounding. I read those words and thought "that's exactly it - how the hell did she manage to put a feeling and a notion into actual tangible sensical words?!". Your best post so far, Miss "I don't want to write anymore" Jenkins.

  2. Also, what's the colour scheme for yours and Maths boy's wedding? I wouldn't want my hat to clash with the decor...