I had to go to Brighton for the day yesterday at short notice - which meant that I'd forgotten to take a book or iPod for the train, and as I'd accidentally wiped my iphone at the weekend - had nothing to distract me from my fellow passengers.
On the way there I had to contend with a group of Japanese schoolgirls with small devices that made lots of noise. Bells, chimes, squeaks and squeals - they were obviously playing some game that transformed then to a universe of infantile stupidity in an attempt to drown out the horror of the world. They were having a great time. I wasn't.
At Bexhill an elderly man in a shabby, but clearly Savile Row chalk stripe black suit got on the train with a man in his 20's who was clearly his son (the clue was that he kept calling him 'Dada'). As they alighted the train (bog standard 90's rolling stock - nothing fancy) the elderly man complained that it wasn't very nice "ah well, I suppose it's the area". The next hour was taken up with him talking to his son very loudly, with complete disregard for anyone else on the train, but with no candour or discretion whatsoever. To be fair - there seemed to be quite a lot of genuine affection between them - but it was the kind of conversation I never had with my father - mostly about money. They were on the way to the reading of a very profitable will in Worthing - and there was clearly a lot of money at stake. The father lived in Canada - the mother seemed to be resident in London, the son was a total waster who wanted to be an opera singer but clearly didn't have any real talent - the father was quite happy to slip him £25k to get him into a music college that had already turned him down for a scholarship and clearly suggested that his career was a non starter but could be persuaded to take him if vast sums were involved. Apparently 'Mummy' might chip in a couple of hundred here and there - "she gets '3k' pocket money a month from me and spends it all on herself anyway". It amazes me how inconsiderate people are on trains - I thought I was going to burst into tears at one point - how could this possibly get any worse.... ah, wait... there is still the return journey!!!
On the way back - I was the first person on the train -- a woman of about 50 say adjacent and then decided to pile all her shopping onto the seat next to me - as the train filled up everyone glowered at my selfishness until she was persuaded to own up and clear the chair. I wish she hadn't - from that point for the next hour I was hemmed in by two morbidly obese school nurses who had absolutely no sense of discretion - professional or personal. For the first 30 mins, the woman to my right 'unloaded' everything that was wrong with her husband while her friend nodded, looked sage, and made a succession of pointless, psychobabble suggestions 'you need to feel more empowered' etc. Her Husband, they have been married for 13 years, is called 'Carl' - and is probably a really nice bloke - but after the character assassination she's given him - it might as well have been the Yorkshire Ripper - essentially - the only thing he actually does wrong is not put the towels in the right place after use, but in her head - he's a depressed alcoholic who is obsessed by his mother and constantly angry. She just went on and on and on about herself, basically - she was a manipulative control freak who engineers everyone around her to suit her own neurosis, laughably - she kept referring sneeringly to 'the mother in law' who seems to spend all her time helping out, taking the kids to school and popping round when summoned. More annoyingly - both women are in the middle of 'special' degrees at the University and according to the woman on my right 'I'm great with the words, but putting them together is a problem so the mother in law comes round and restructures all my essays, she's an academic, after all'. They spent the 2nd half of the journey talking about their work in far too much detail (I could pick up the phone right now and get them both sacked) and where their children should go to school, - which seemed to be another exercise in passive aggressive mind control and self absorbed manipulation - after exhaustive research the child in question, who is 'really, really bright and will do well anywhere' can make his own choice - but he's actually wrong and she had already decided at the onset where he was going. At one point, talking about a local high school with an exceptional reputation - a girl at the next table chipped in (the whole carriage was listening to this) and said that she had been there herself and it had been fantastic. The women both made nice noises - then told her that she was totally wrong about everything. These woman ruined my day - I was their prisoner, and they knew it. They were selfish, self absorbed and incredibly unprofessional. They were also so fat I could hardly breath crushed against the window, not a great advertisement for their profession.