Thanks for the jump start


If any of my friends realised how much I depend on them, I wonder if they’d run away, clutching their throats and making strangled noises. Hope not. But goodness, how much use they are. Just meeting up with someone and having a banter is enough to get me out of my own head and back on track. So while they are sitting there, moaning on about how Steve sent a really shirty email and cc-ed everybody in the office when it’s nothing to do with him and he isn’t even my line manager…  I’m sitting there, sucking up their energy. Yum!

Actually, it’s not just friends. Family and strangers will do too. I was on my way to Hereford last weekend to stay with some cousins and I had to change at Newport, onto a tiny little Tonka train. I had a reservation but the train was packed and I would never dream of kicking someone out of a seat. Unless I was pregnant or hungover – or indeed both – in which case it would be elbows out and away you go. I found a spare seat at a table, a minute or two before an unpleasantly aggressive couple approached, who swiftly established that they had no such qualms about asserting their rights. You, they said, indicating two women, are in our seats and WE HAVE RESERVATIONS. What made the situation even lovelier was that these two mild and sweet women were deaf and so the couple had to explain several times, their chins sticking out further with every iteration, before resorting to jerking their thumbs back over their shoulders. Hideous. I squeaked to the women that one of them was welcome to my seat, and scuttled up the carriage.

How glad I am that I did! Not only was I away from the Vile People, but as I wedged myself between an elderly man and the luggage rack at the end of the carriage, he asked me what I was reading. We quickly got into conversation about Adam Curtis and his brilliant documentaries. The conversation was only interrupted by two charming likely lads who opened the door and asked if either of us had a bottle opener. I do, on my keyring, so handed it over amid jocular debate about whether it was rude to ask me for a bottle opener in case it implied I looked like an alky, or whether it was sexist to assume that I would never have such a thing. Then back to the conversation with the ‘aging hippie’ (his own words) conspiracists and evil elites. There’s a lot to be said for crowded trains.


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