As is usual on a weeknight, I was manacled into my usual corner of a London Overground train, my 55 minute journey home served under worse conditions than European bureaucrats allow for the transportation of farm animals. Preferable as it is to be heading to work as opposed to a slaughterhouse (however work in the current economic clime might seem), I still envy these animals that travel in comparative space and luxury.
Over-dramatised gripe aside, one of the only pleasures in an otherwise pleasureless bi-daily occurrence is that I can suit down and read solidly for a while, even if I seem to attract elbow pushing, space invading fellow passengers on the seat next to me. I certainly enjoyed vigorously consuming Orwell’s ‘Coming Up For Air’ this week (see previous post) and have now moved onto ‘Women’ by Charles Bukowski – a contrast in literary style that could not be more marked, the book buffs amongst you will note.
Shoved in my usual corner by the window at the back of the carriage, I opened up my book after a really busy day at work and started to relax as I read about Bukowski’s adventures with the fairer sex, shortly to be joined by three of the same next to me.
Now this is where things got irritating. These three women did nothing but talk loudly and moan and nag at each other for practically the entire journey, every word disrupting my concentration and spoiling my evening literary pleasure. Yes, I'm fully aware that I sound like a grumpy old man, yes, I’m aware that people are entitled to converse when journeying on public transport but damn it! Why is it always next to me?!
Unfortunately, the train journey I travel on is a dilapidated route, where things such as ‘quiet carriages’, ‘personal space’ and toilets are left on the management’s ‘to do’ list. Am I alone in my desire for a quiet reading carriage? Will the reading masses revolt in an explosion of fury as a final chapter is spoiled by the regaling of an office affair that the other sixty people on the carriage really aren’t interested in? If you ever hear of an incident like this on London transport, chances are you won’t have to look further than my direction!