Thursday, November 19, 2009
A small miracle happens: I have a table seat on the only train in the North West of England currently running to schedule. Opposite are a Dad and his five year old Daughter, who have jumped on board at the last minute.
The Dad goes to stow the luggage on the rack, The Daughter empties out her Polly Pockets and lines up a collection of GoGos on the table. The man next to me really wants to open up his laptop and get on with Something Quite Important, but between us we've managed to engage the little girl in conversation. She tells us she has forty five GoGos and seventy one Polly Pockets but most of them are at home.
We've started moving before the train manager begins his announcement. He tells us that the train is due to arrive in Glasgow on time.
The Daughter informs us that "If you were going to count to ... erm ... two hundred and fifty it would take you ...er... about a thousand years". The patient man in the seat next to me chooses not opening his laptop over snubbing a five year old.
The train manager has not quite finished:
He repeats that tonight there will be additional stops at Penrith and Lockerbie, then delivers the sucker punch - there is no guarantee that the train will get to Penrith or Lockerbie. There is severe flooding (someone whispers that there's a freight train blocking the line, someone else heard that trees were down) he will do the best he can and the M6 is also closed (he says this almost defensively, as though anticipating the "I might as well have driven" remarks he'll face as he walks down the train).
The absence of an outbreak of consternation impresses me.
The Daughter divulges that the Dad is an actor, and she hopes he's going to be the Scarecrow, because he'll have to have straw up his jumper and in his hair. The indulgent man in the seat next to me smiles and abandons his attempt to get a Bit More Work done.
I feel a fraud as I wish them good luck and, standing to leave, confess that I'm only going one stop.