I’ve seen some unexpected things on trains over the years. Quite a few of them I’ve written about on this blog but nothing like today. Today’s took the cake, crumbled it up and fed it to the ducks.
It was the train from Lewes to Clapham Junction which, unlike the Brighton train to Ore, was full of empty seats. I’d been a bit wary, wondering what on earth I’d do if there were no trains. I was happy to see that there were buses running to Tunbridge Wells. Not that I really wanted to go to Tunbridge Wells but at least it meant I could get somewhere if all the trains were cancelled. As it turned out, an unexpected bus trip to Kent was not required.
I’d had a sort of sleep in (9am) and, after a coffee, thanked Lorna and Darren for their delightful hospitality and headed down for the station. Lewes was strangely full of people by 10am though most of the shops remained shut. Fortunately this was not so for Nero’s (there is no Starbucks in Lewes which is why we could never live there) where I stopped for a latte thinking there’d be nothing at the station…which there actually was.
Lewes station is very attractive with lines going either side and off in different directions. This means there’s a sort of giant wedge in between the platforms. This makes it both unusual and attractive. It all looks very Victorian.
This is in contrast to the very old second hand bookshop just down the road from Lorna and Darren’s place. It’s been there a rather long time.
20 minutes later I was off towards Clapham. Across the aisle from me was a strange looking woman wearing very big headphones and listening, I think, to an audio book. I couldn’t hear it but she was mouthing words as she listened and would occasionally give sound to these mouthings. It was a bit odd.
A couple of stations after Lewes, a dad and his two young, pre-teen sons boarded the train. The dad sat opposite me with possibly the biggest suitcase I’ve ever seen, in the seat beside him. The boys sat opposite the crazy woman. She immediately told them not to kick her suitcase (it was under the table directly where the boys’ feet would normally go).
While the boys were perfectly well behaved, she was clearly not happy and kept moving the suitcase (while still listening to whatever she was listening to). She sighed with relief when the three of them left the train at Gatwick for whatever foreign climes they were headed.
Everything returned to normal in the carriage until the old woman entered the picture.
She sat opposite me and was perfectly normal. She was about 70-75 and just sat. Then, out of the blue she decided to move across the aisle and sit opposite the headphone woman. The old lady explained it was because she preferred facing the direction of travel. She wasn’t telling me this but, rather, explaining to the mad woman. Again, peace returned.
Then, suddenly the crazy woman started yelling at the old lady telling her to stop twiddling her thumbs. I’m serious! She told her to stop twiddling her thumbs. To say we were all surprised would be to put far too fine a point on it.
The mad woman then leapt to her feet and started gathering her stuff (and there was a lot of it) together in order to move a few seats further into the carriage. All the time she muttered about the old lady twiddling her thumbs. Finally all her possessions were in her hands and she stormed off down the carriage saying that she’d told the woman to stop twiddling her thumbs but she’d refused. “I hate when people twiddle their thumbs,” she spat out, emphatically.
Silence eventually returned only to be shattered again when the mad woman returned, having forgotten something. She left, cursing the thumb twiddler all over again.
Satisfied she wasn’t returning, the old lady, calm as toast said “I didn’t know I WAS twiddling my thumbs.” We all had a jolly good chuckle.
At Clapham I changed for a train to Woking…
…where I waited for a train home, eventually walking in about four hours after leaving Lorna and Darren’s place.
I made tacos for dinner and then went to bed, exhausted. It was fun but very tiring for an old bloke like me.