Thursday, 15 December 2011

Festive cheer

Today is my last commute of the year. Ill be working from home for the rest of the holiday season, so it only seems appropriate that today was the day I received a gift that will keep on giving, and it wasn't yet 7am.
A man puked in my hair.
Yep. Thought I'd leave you with that for a minute. I thought he had somehow sprayed snow from his boots all over those of us sitting on the aisle.
Nope. He had projectile vomited down the aisle as he was exiting the bus. The lady behind me got it across her arm. It arced over my head, pelting my hair and tights as it sprayed across my row and finally finished its trajectory by nailing the woman in front of me square between the shoulder blades.
He didn't even make a sound as it happened, so I didn't compute it until the guy was already gone. I didn't see anything of him except jeans, so I can't even thank him for his yuletide present if I see him in future.
The lady in front didn't know it had happened, so I had to share the joyous seasonal news. I didn't have any frankincense or myrrh, but I did share around some tissues and hand sanitizer.
Unfortunately, although I was less than 10 minutes from home, I have a big day at work and couldn't risk missing trains to go back and change. So I'm currently sitting in the cozy warmth of a train bulleting through picturesque, snow-covered countryside while the aroma gently wafts around my head.
It doesn't smell of cinnamon or nutmeg, or even booze for that matter. If it did, I'd be a bit less worried about the prospect of spending Christmas hugging porcelain and wishing Santa would put me out of my fucking misery.
When I get to my destination, I will be joining the other merry shoppers in a spending spree of new tights and shampoo. I have never been more grateful for the shower in our neighbouring building on campus.
Merry Christmas, dear readers and best wishes for a puke-free season!

Monday, 12 December 2011

6 of one, half a dozen of another

In what I thought was a crafty evasive manoeuvre to avoid sitting within earshot of the Office Workers from Hell, this morning I chose a carriage I don't normally travel in. Instead, I've been saddled with a grunting table hog who is incapable of covering his mouth when he coughs and am opposite the Retail Nightmares. The Retail Nightmares are basically the OWFH, but in non-designer clothes and with the power to fire the co-workers that they bitch about.
These women may have been the subject of a previous post, so apologies for any repetition. They are apparently regional managers of a mid-range clothing store (Dorothy Perkins or Topshop, I'm guessing). When they aren't talking loudly about their stocktaking and cumulative reports (shortened to "kyooms"), they are making incessant mobile calls. You know, the ones that inevitably end with "Hello? Hello? Oh, I've lost my signal" because we are on a train through the Peak District where there is no reception. They turn everyday words into Proper Nouns in a non-ironic fashion. This may be an effort to make their mind-numbing duties seem important. Example: We should complete the Disciplinaries next.
Where I work, any time there is an "important" policy or form with which we must comply, we refer to it as a proper noun in a tongue-and-cheek fashion to emphasise exactly how unimportant this exercise really is. These women actually believe that the Floor Maps of their jeans rack layout in each department is pressing information that Gemma needs to send over immediately.
I can't decide which carriage's occupants are more distracting and inane. But a change is as good as a rest, right?

Friday, 9 December 2011

Well, that was helpful

In response to my letter, my train company apparently forwarded my letter to a different train company. I don't know why, but they did. I received a voicemail from the second train company today requesting the dates of travel (which were included with my original letter), a copy of my season ticket (sent with the original letter) and asking me to call back. The guy didn't leave a number. That's some stellar customer service to offer somebody already having problems with the company. Well done, you!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Narrow escape

Train Buddy 2.0 had a narrow escape this morning. I saw the lone male in the OWFH (Office Workers from Hell) sitting alone at a table by himself and an empty table across the aisle. TB2 and I had a silent conversation comprised entirely of small facial expressions and subtle gestures in which I weighed up the situation and decided to sit elsewhere while he decided to brave it. About 2 minutes later TB2 came my way with his stuff in hand. Apparently the rest of the bitchy gaggle was expected at the next station. Had he not opted to move, he could have been trapped there for over an hour listening to backstabbing and pregnancy stories. Instead, we had a lovely conversation about how screwed up our various institutions were and got on with a most productive journey on our laptops. Phew!


Just a little shout out to Train Buddy 1.0. He has finally done the sensible thing and moved to the city in which he works. I'm happy for him, and slightly envious of all of the extra sleep and personal space he now has. Perhaps I might start messaging him around 6am just to let him know when things are running on time or if I find an interesting story in the Metro.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Some people love Fridays

Anyone who looks forward to Friday is obviously not a commuter on this line. My "on time" train arrived 12 minutes late, and then was swarmed by 4 transport police recovering a lost suitcase. Not a suspicious one, just a lost one. When they finally allowed us on, there was a stampede of people trying to get into seats while a hapless conductor was trying to swim against the current to put out seat reservations.

Once again, I have question the wisdom of putting on only 2 carriages on a train that hits 3 major cities during the evening rush period. I think I only managed to get into a seat because the conductor gave up on the reservations before he got to this end. There's been no attempt in 3 stops to check tickets, so perhaps at least a few people will get a free ride. We eventually set off 16 minutes late, which will inevitably put us behind a local stopping train or something. I'd like to just sit and read, but there is a girl halfway in my seat with her suitcase on her lap because she's scooted over to make room for her colleagues in the aisle. It's fine, and important, but I'm not really in the mood to listen to endless prattle about breast feeding intervention strategies for new mothers.

I was off yesterday recovering from a tummy bug, but dragged myself in for a meeting today (and to collect a turkey - long story). Let's just hope for everyone's sake that I don't have a relapse, because there are about 40 people crammed into the aisle between me and the nearest receptacle. That would make everyone's Friday night, I'm sure.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Train theatre

Ok, train company. Can we just stop pretending now? Frankly, the storyline that the evening train is going to arrive at 18:41 is simply not believable. You might as well just be honest and say that you have absolutely no idea when the damned thing is likely to arrive. Not enamored with the theatre metaphor? Let's try science instead.

If my students submit a report with statistics, it is expected that the numbers include a standard error of the mean (usually indicated by +/-). In your case, the arrival time is always accompanied by a +. This indicates that you are actually misrepresenting the true time at which the train arrives.

In the last few weeks*, my T,W,Th, Fri journeys have gone something like this:

25/10 14 mins late
26/10 24 mins late
27/10 on time (anomalous)
28/10 22 mins late (on hour earlier train)
1/11 8 mins late
8/11 10 mins late (am train)
9/11 30 mins late (this was on 17:22 start, which involved 2 delays and a sprint to have doors slammed in my face on connection)
10/11 29 minutes late
11/11 ~10 mins late (I'd stopped caring by end of week)
15/11 I forgot to look
16/11 trains *CANCELLED* after waiting for 2 hours at the station, Train Buddy drove us. (More on this in a forthcoming post).
17/11 10 mins late
18/11 morning train 11 late (and short 2 carriages), evening train 14 minutes and counting as I type.

*missing dates indicate days on which I was so fed up that I arranged to work from home.

Let's hope next week is better. Perhaps we might aim for 1-2 days of on-time service before December, when we can fully expect snow or leaves to shut the rails down altogether.

-Apologies to my dear readers for the complete lack of humor lately. I'm too annoyed and tired to even try to find the funny in this.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Betcha I don't get a response

There's no compensation for delays of less than 30 minutes, and the most compensation I've ever received for anything has been a whopping £9. However, I'm fed up and have sent the following letter, along with the standard claim form:

Dear Customer Relations,

Please find the enclosed Delay Repay form. Although the 17:22 was technically only delayed by about 10 minutes, it meant that despite sprinting across Manchester Piccadilly I missed my connection to Sheffield (arriving in time for the doors to slam shut in my face). The next train was not for another 25 minutes and was also delayed by about 8 minutes. I arrived a full 31 minutes after I should have done, and was unable to work productively during the trip, which is why I opt to take the train rather than driving in the first place.

This was actually the 6th train of 9 evening journeys that has arrived late in the last couple of weeks. Sometimes it’s only a matter of 7-15 minutes, but it’s enough to ensure that I miss buses, evening appointments and generally arrive home frustrated and exhausted nearly every night. None of these journeys individually adds up to a compensable delay; however, cumulatively it has added well over an hour of inconvenience to my life in the last week alone.

Quite often, the train is crushed to standing room only and overheated. Why on earth there are only two carriages on a train that goes through 3 of the largest cities in the North during rush hour is utterly incomprehensible.

I pay an extortionate amount of money –over £4500- for this service each year, and it is quite frankly just not good enough. I would appreciate it if only as a token gesture the company would a) acknowledge the issues I have raised in this letter and b) offer some sort of meaningful compensation for the prolonged torture that has become my daily commute.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Disgruntled season ticket holder

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Today went like this...

4.5 hours sleep, alarm in the dark at 4:45 am. Out the door at 5:30. Arrive at work, sun barely up. Work straight through with out food or bathroom break until it's dark again. Miss train. Next train gets stuck. Sprint for connection and miss it. Wait for next train. That train is delayed. Bus smells of feet. Walk in door just shy of 15 hours after leaving. Miss seeing my kid awake at today. Hoping for a glass of wine and an episode of The Wire before I go to sleep and do it all again tomorrow.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Gotta lotta baggage

Today was the comfort test for my new pair of rather saucy ankle boots with a heel height that made me seriously contemplate their practicality. In the end I decided to throw caution to the wind and just buy a pair of shoes because I liked them, for once. My feet survived the various cobbled and hilly trips between buildings and stations. They held up pretty well pounding up and down stairs and concrete halls all afternoon while I gathered specimens for my labs tomorrow. However, they began to cry for mercy this evening after traversing the cobbles again to find my platform had been changed to the other end of the station and I had to sprint to make it.

The train is hot and rammed. There are no seats and the vestibules are stuffed with people standing. It's nearly an hour before the next major station where I might be able to slip into a vacated seat before the influx of new people get on. Unable to bear the thought of swaying back and forth on tender toes until then, I have created my own seat in the luggage rack (flatcap and backpack in photo for scale). It's not wide enough for my laptop, or even my shoulders unless I angle them, but my butt is in here and that makes my feet very happy indeed.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Freakin' me out, man

The guy across the table from me is behaving very oddly. No, not the one all in black with biker beard and tattoos -the guy dressed in a decent suit and well-groomed. Why? He doesn't appear to have just made a court appearance or anything. He just keeps audibly sighing in a frustrated manner, shaking his head and bouncing his legs up and down. At first, I thought he was angry at neighboring loud conversation guy, but that stopped. He keeps nodding off and then waking up very agitated.

Now he's blasting "Insane in the Membrane" while seemingly asleep to the point where his head is lolling and his jaw is making involuntary motions, but all the while his leg is still bouncing. I'm kind of waiting for him to just jump up and go postal.

Train travel can be seriously frustrating, but this guy looks unhinged.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Traveling douchebag

After 30 minutes, this lovely character has managed to systematically violate almost every statute of the train traveller's etiquette:

Feet on the seat: check. (shot me a dirty look when I said, "Excuse me" so I could sit down)

Blockading empty seat with luggage: check. (made no effort to remove it even when the train was packed to standing. Why nobody asked her to move it is beyond me.When the train departed, she waited a few minutes and then put her suitcase up above to guarantee her own space).

Loud mobile phone conversation: Check! (on the "jewel"-encrusted mobile - as if that doesn't qualify one for douche status on it's own).

Foot space hogging: check. (Kick me one more time, I dare you.)

Table space commandeering: check. (and then is feigning sleep so nobody disturbs her to ask her to move).

I think the only things left are bodily functions/grooming or bad smells. Judging by her accent we are probably bound for the same place, so there are another 90 minutes left for her to try.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Double the Pleasure

Somehow, I've had the pleasure of sitting with the office workers from hell (OWFH) *twice* today. They have featured in the blog before. This morning, there was some sort of emergency call coming out of the driver's cabin requesting assistance for a seriously ill driver impacting the route. We couldn't tell whether it was regarding our driver/line or not, because OWFH wouldnt shut the hell up long enough to hear what was being said. Apparently, this potentially grave situation was not as important as them prattling on about women they knew who had been pregnant and their maternity leave. I've personally heard them have this exact conversation at least 4 times in the past, so it wasn't exactly compelling. Luckily, Train Buddy was there to point out interesting stories in the Metro during our brief delay. Apparently it wasn't our driver, but hopefully whoever it was is alright.

This evening, they've spent 40 minutes being horrible about some woman that they work with who is constantly miserable. I bet the poor thing is miserable because of these vapid, cruel women. I'm wedged in next to Strongbow Guy and am seriously considering asking for a swig of his cider just to make this less painful. Oh wait. He's downed both cans already.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Business as usual

Stupid pointless day, followed by one cancelled train and a delayed one with no announcement. At the moment, it's looking like I'll be delayed by an hour and 20 minutes, not counting any knock-on effects for catching the night bus. I think East Midlands should also compensate me for the additional 30 minutes I'll have to spend dealing with the reimbursement claim tomorrow.

Soap and water

Another train etiquette pointer, and stop me if you've heard this one: wash your balls. If I can smell the stank from 4 rows away and it's 8am, you need a reminder.

It's also getting to be that time of year where we all start dragging out our coats and scarves. Yes, I know it's still technically August, but it is downright chilly. Do us all a favour and give them a wash. When the train is warm and crowded, it reduces the amount of funk in the air. Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Really sad

It is really, really hot in here. The train has been stuck in a tunnel for over 40 minutes now, and the conductor has a very faint grasp of the English language. Despite two announcements, we are none the wiser since we can't understand a damn word over the tannoy. There is no signal, so this post will appear when the train emerges from the blackness.

From the other end of the carriage has been an incessant barrage of drunken noise. The offenders have just staggered down the aisle. Guess who? Two of the 3 cider drinkers from this morning. They haven't stopped drinking in the interim, by the look of it. No sign of the kid (who was apparently a boy, but just bedecked with a long ponytail in a purple elastic). Perhaps somebody else took pity on him and stole him. I bottled it at the last minute. May the little guy have been snagged by a benevolent rescuer.


I am trapped at a table with three young men who are drinking 500ml cans of cider at 10am. They are having discussions about friends named Teabag, Pookie, and Shots. They are loud and annoying, but that's not what I find uncomfortable about the situation.

They have a beautiful little girl of about 3 years old with them. She is sucking back Tic Tacs and Lucozade as fast as they are sucking back the booze. What should be a lovely smile is marred by a mouthful of brown teeth, complete with hypoplasia and the characteristic tooth shape of a kid who probably still has a pacifier. Wonder if they'll notice if I snatch her up and run. Maybe after a couple more cans, I'll get my chance...

Friday, 29 July 2011

Helpful as always

Today East Midlands Trains has really outdone themselves. I'm travelling for the sad occasion of visiting a friend receiving palliative care. What should be a time for quiet contemplation has now turned into a clusterfuck typical of EMT.

The train was delayed over the Pennines with no explanation, causing a missed connection. The app on my phone showed two other trains departing shortly thereafter that would get me to my destination, but there were no departures boards on the platform. I ran to the lobby to check the board, only to find that the two trains weren't even listed. The guy at the ticket desk tried to speak to me as though I was unable to read a timetable, and denied that the changeover on the Internet didn't match the one in reality. Thankfully, a woman with two kids behind me in the queue piped up that she had the same problem. He decided to be more helpful after that.

I'm en route now, with a total of 3 changes and nearly 40 minutes delay. Thank goodness I was prepared for such an inevitability. I made sure to leave 2 hours before I needed to just so I wouldn't miss visiting hours if the train was late.

Now I'm annoyed and flustered from all of the hustling between platforms and the lobby to get information. Maybe I should thank them for the distraction. Or not.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Some days this sounds like a great idea

This was recently linked by a friend. Believe me, I don't subscribe to bridal blogs [shudder], but the pink sparkly in a can sounded worth a try. Mildly classier than the dude with the cans of Strongbow, perhaps? If I see this, I might round out my poseur commuter cuisine with some M&S sushi.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A little train love

Ok - normally I bitch about train services. Today is different. Things haven't been smooth, but were definitely not as unpleasant as usual because train staff have been uncharacteristically nice today.

I travelled to London yesterday morning, and discovered that the contracted travel agent for our university had messed up big time and I didn't have a ticket. It was sorted with minutes and I picked it up from the machine. This morning, some poor unfortunate selfish asshole threw his/herself under a train and delayed the Piccadilly line by about an hour, but the train driver was very pleasant and nobody crammed into the tube smelled or was obnoxious.

Then tonight, I ran for the train with bruised feet and a broken heel on my shoe- the barrier guy thought it was so funny that he just let me through. I was an hour into my return journey when the train manager looked at my ticket only to discover that the travel agent had again screwed up and my ticket was actualy valid for the day before.

I showed him my email conversations with the travel agent and he recognized that the guy had made a mistake and very pleasantly let me continue my journey. He could have been a jerk, but he was lovely and I appreciate it.

So, thank you to the train manager and the tube driver who didn't suck.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


I think it would be useful for me to do an internship with the train company so I can better understand what the hell is going on. There seem to be some things that seem rather simple to figure out, but must be very complicated behind the scenes.

I was running late this morning because I decided that caffeine was more important than anything else I had going today, so I missed my train by about a minute. That meant I had to take the next train with the mad dash changeover.

I went running through the station to find that my connecting train was running 5 minutes late. No problem. But, as I was looking at the departures board, it became evident that there was no way my train would arrive at that time, because there was one departing a minute before it on the same platform. About 2 minutes later, the delay and expected time changed to an 11 minute delay. But, the same problem was going to happen with another train, and then the next one after that. Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but it seems evident that there was never any chance that my delayed train was ever going to arrive at platform 14 only 5 minutes late when there were 3 others in the way. It eventually left 24 minutes late, and I'm guessing that they knew that at the outset. If they'd have just said that, I could have at least gone to get another coffee instead of freezing my butt off on the platform for 26 minutes.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Train Buddy found this and shared it: <>

Not sure even my worst journey has stacked up against this. Suicide and snow days have come close, but there wasn't a dance floor.

A new word

Sodcasting - the word for people who play their tinny dance music from their phones like it's a boombox.

Special thanks to Dr Dee for the link.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Commuting made me evil

I'm pretty sure I'm a jackass. I'm pretty sure I wasn't a jackass before I started this job and could walk to work.

This morning, there were two carriages and it was rammed. I managed to bag a seat at a table and get my laptop set up so I could work on a project with an imminent deadline. A couple in their early 60s came up waving seat reservations at me. When there are two carriages, seat reservations aren't honoured, but this fact is never announced. I decided not to do what old me would have done and give up my seat to the old people who are off to a day at the museums. New me politely refused, citing the lack of reservation flags on the seats. The regular commuter next to me did the same, which made me feel marginally less like a jackass. When did I become a harried self-preservationist? Once again, I thank you East Midlands Trains.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

A pair of douchebags

I should always trust my first instinct. A little voice told me to sit somewhere else, but I coveted the table space on a busy train so I could get a couple of hours in on a project with a deadline. There is a couple at my table who both need a punch.

The first clue should have been the fact that the guy is sucking on the girl's neck while calling her "mate". Whenever he is bored, which appears to be approximately every 40 seconds or so, he begins belting out the opening lines to The Lion King (you know the one... Laaaa helayla or something) in Scouse. His "mate" is popping her gum and giggling.

They had a war of blowing raspberries at each other and trying to steal each others' gum. He is wearing a button up shirt, waistcoat, and tie while complaining how hot he is. They have knocked into my feet and my computer at least 12 times.

Thank goodness they've left the train after only 26 minutes. Another 5 and there would have been sailors blushing at my response.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Office from hell

I think I've posted before about the horrible catty women (and one bloke) that spend an hour each morning vacillating between horrible management speak and talking tons of crap about everyone in their office who isn't present at that very second.

Last week, Train Buddy and I were subjected to a very loud and desperatly boring conversation about pregnancy that made it quite plain that these women were convinced they were the only people to have ever gone through it. They also seemed to be of the opinion that it was the most fascinating subject in the world for everyone nearby. It was even more excruciating than a previous conversation they had that contained the following terminology (I'm not making this up): Quality issue, expanding remit, systems and processes, quarterly report, feedback, involvement in the decision-making process, going forward.

But this morning, there was a tiny ray of sunshine. Apparently on Friday, they had been engaging in their customary shredding of co-workers. After sparing no one from their manicured claws, a man introduced himself. As their new boss.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Peed off

Why do I suddenly have to pay to pee at the station? Is my £4500 annual season pass not enough to cover a couple of scraps of loo roll? Perhaps the barriers could scan tickets instead. Then only heroin addicts who are going places will use them to shoot up.

Travelling Douchebag

Unfortunately, I didn't actually get to see the Travelling Douchebag in the flesh, but he was there nonetheless. After several minutes of idling outside a station, the conductor announcement came over the loudspeaker, "We apologise for the delay. This train will not be going anywhere until the passenger who is refusing to pay his fare does so or exits the train".

We were shortly on our way, so it appears that shaming a douchebag really is the way forward.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

This is not your living room

Oh my god, people. I know it's a long journey, and some of us spend more waking hours on this godforsaken train than we do with our families, but don't get too comfortable.

This morning, Train Buddy and I have been subjected to waves of the most horrendous stench. We can't pin down the actual culprit, but based on the time lapse between TB's facial contortions and mine, we know it's making it's way down the carriage from behind him. Based on the odor, I should be on the lookout for someone whose face is alternately green and then relieved.

The woman opposite is nicely decked out in a coordinating suit and shoes. And she is clipping her fingernails. Somehow, I think that is almost more repulsive than Mr Sneaky Flatulence.

Certain things should be done in a bathroom in private, or in front of a spouse who no longer has to find you attractive. I'm just waiting for the guy next to us to pop in a DVD and start scratching his balls and then the scenario will be complete.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


"We apologise for the delayed service. This was due to some strange logistical decision by the signaler". Hoorah for honesty.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Train etiquette

It's totally acceptable to sleep on the train. As a matter of fact, I'm terribly jealous. However, sleepers should choose the polite option and sit by the window. This prevents the non-sleepers from being forced into unpleasant circumstances because we are trapped in our seats.

To illustrate this point, I'll let you have a peek into my inner monologue (don't be afraid) while being blockaded by a rather large man throwing a lot of body heat.

[Do I try to maneuver around your gargantuan mass to access my backpack overhead without bumping you, or try to find some other project that doesn't require the files located there? I've been up all night working, which means lots of coffee. Now I need to pee and there are 90 minutes left on this journey. How long shall I attempt to be polite and not wake you before I risk kidney damage? Oh damn. I've gotten up, and in the 2.5 minutes since I left, you've fallen back to sleep. Now I'm going to have to wake your hulking ass again to get back in my chair. Don't look so annoyed. If you'd have sat by the frigging window in the first place, I wouldn't be having this silent conversation with you and you'd still be snoring and drooling onto your tie].

What I actually said was more along the lines of, "Sorry" or "Excuse me" about five times. But we all know what it really meant.

Monday, 2 May 2011

I can see their point

I saw this story today about Argentinians getting so mad about train delays that they set a train alight and chucked the driver and ticket inspector off. I totally understand that sort of rage. However, I think a good swear and a cup of coffee while firing off a sarcastic blog post is about all the rage a gal can muster most mornings.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The Earbud Avenger is back

On her first day back to the grinding commute, the Earbud Avenger has politely protected the ears and sanity of yet another trainload of passengers.

The offender was a man in his late 40s or early 50s blasting classic rock and trying to dress like Tony Hawk. As he plonked down his iPod, it wasn't even in his ears and the sound could be heard throughout the carriage. Surely he wouldn't put that many decibels directly in his ear canal? Oh but he did, eliciting nervous and perplexed giggles from the table full of teenage girls nearby. He thought he had pulled with his washed up rocker attitude.

When the capeless crusader asked him to turn it down, he looked genuinely surprised and asked, "What, really? Is it loud?". Maybe not to the deaf, sir.

On a related note, I've had several emails recently from friends taking up the mantel of the Earbud Avenger, and even a suggestion to make t-shirts and start a movement. Share your stories here or on Twitter with the hashtag #earbudavenger!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Off the rails

It may be that nobody has noticed, or perhaps you're all pleased for the peace and quiet, but I haven't been posting much lately. This is because I've been away in the US for several weeks and have not seen a train (except Chicago's EL, briefly) for over a month. I've been staying with friends in Florida, and have not seen one single example of public transportation. Part of me would like to say I've missed it, but a 15 minute drive to the lab and not an earbud to be avenged has it's advantages. Even the trip getting here was uneventful.

So, until my return to the evil commute of doom resumes sometime in April, this constant commuter will be quiet. Although we did have a taxi driver in Chicago that may or may not have a stash of dead bodies somewhere. More on that later, perhaps...

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Morning awesomeness

I have just witnessed something awesome. An extraordinarily inebriated Scouser just got on the train (it's 9am). He was making a fuss, talking incomprehensible and loud bollocks. It was disturbing enough that people were actually looking around. This is England. If somebody took a dump in the aisle, they would ignore it so as not to make a fuss. So, if people were acknowledging the behaviour, you know it was pretty disruptive. The conductor did his best to calm the guy, but to no avail.

He then staggered down the aisle with his open bottle of Cobra and proceeded to sit on the guy sitting at the table opposite me. No idea why, just chose a rather well-built chap and sat on him.

Well-built chap authoritatively told Drunky not to sit on him. When he didn't listen, well-built chap popped him into an arm lock behind his back, walked him into the vestibule, and pushed him up against the door and had a word. Conductor went to sort it out, but drunky was suddenly calm. He even came over and managed a sort of garbled apology to the other guy at the table. Yeehaw. That dude deserves a merit badge. Drunky now has a welcoming committee of cops awaiting him at our final destination.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Another nutter

There is another academic who has joined Train Buddy and me in the ranks of the daily long haul commuter. He used to sleep in our work city during the week. For some incomprehensible reason (lovely family, I think), he has decided to do the daily slog too. Until I come up with something better, he will be called Train Buddy v 2.0 (TB2). Train Buddy the 1st has been taking the insanely early train for a while now, eschewing sleep for a peaceful journey. I simultaneously admire him for this and think he's mental.

Yesterday, TB2 and I were comparing notes about fellow passengers. Turns out he also has been perpetually annoyed by the catty management-speak group and the bulldog retail rep. I think they will each merit an entry soon.

In the meantime, welcome TB2!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The salon

Got an early train home today and found myself inside a mobile beauty parlour. There was a girl across the aisle giving herself a full manicure, complete with three coats of toxic fumes. I tried not to watch where the cuticle clippings and file dust went [shudder].

The girl opposite was extremely pretty, with a very natural and fresh look. She spent the next hour painting, lining and blending. Then she teased her previously sleek dark hair to twice its original volume. By the time she had finished, she just looked like an average girl that had to paint herself a pretty face. Wonder if her daddy knows she keeps about £100 of makeup hidden in her bag to put on when she leaves the house.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Maybe I drink too much coffee

I popped into the chain coffee place I often frequent on the way to the station*. The guy behind the counter greeted me with a warm smile and he chatted away for a couple of minutes. I was just thinking that I'd better order my drink so that I could get a move on when he handed me a steaming hot cup of life-sustaining liquid.

It was like the planets had aligned and all was right with the world. After that, the train was on time with four carriages. I'm sitting opposite the very entertaining prep school kids, and I can barely hear Management-speak Wanker blathering away behind me. Thanks, coffee guy!

*Apologies to my most favourite barista in the whole world. I feel like I'm cheating on you, but you're not open at 7am. Hell, sometimes you're not even open at 10.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Strange bedfellows

The poor man across the aisle from me has drawn an unfortunate lot this evening. Due to the- erm- rotund nature of the man beside him, he has been forced to overhang his binderful of legal documentation into the aisle in order to work. This leaves him open to constant collisions from the overly keen trolley guy who has clearly not met his daily quota of KitKat and lager sales.

It wouldn't have been so bad for him if Señor Rotundo had not been snoring at a decibel level that would require unionised workers to have been issued with protective equipment. Señor Rotundo is wearing a wedding ring. Either his wife is deaf or he sleeps on the sofa.

Working Guy caught my astonished stare and asked if I had a marking pen. Seemed a shame not to draw on Señor Rotundo's face, really. Alas, we were not properly equipped so Working Guy had to amuse himself by rolling cigarettes with his twitching fingers. Another example of a quiet evening spent devising ways of smothering the guy snoring away contendly next to you...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Call for inventors

A week into resuming my regularly scheduled commute, and I have a cold. Again. This is at least 4 since New Year 2010. Since I'm not a sickly person and my family have escaped most of the bugs, I can only assume it can be blamed on the giant rolling germ capsules on rails where I spend so many hours.

Here's where the lovely, creative People of the Internet come in. Let's have a collective brainstorm for some sort of personal apparatus that wards off viruses while on planes or trains. I'm not interested in the face masks reminiscent of SARS in China. Either something discreet that others can't see, or perhaps something so freaking outlandish/stylish that it becomes as ubiquitous as the iPod.

Unfortunately, there's no money for R&D, but you'd have my undying gratitude and a far smaller quantity of snotty tissues in the bin.

Suggestions/drawings/whatever in comments or via email.

Friday, 14 January 2011

The late train

This post was going to be called, "The Last Train", but it seemed a bit ominous when I haven't reached home yet.

I spent the day in London and caught the last train back, which was delayed because of a broken train on the line. I was apprehensive about the journey, fully expecting it to be chock full of weirdos. Unfortunately, the most remarkable passengers were a mildly obnoxious band of Uni-age wannabe rockers sporting faux fur and glam rock haircuts. There have to be weirdos on the late train. It's practically a rule.

Oh no. That leaves only one thing.The weirdo must be me.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Yesterday, despite having only two slightly overcrowded carriages, I enjoyed my commute. My husband had a meeting in the city where I work, so joined me for the train journeys. Having someone to chat with on a wet platform in the dark was really nice. For once, the person opposite me at the table playing footsie wasn't a complete stranger. It was a pleasant, unusually quiet journey.

At one point however, he did turn to me and say, "Earbud Avenger my arse. There's no noisy people on here". I'm not sure that he was convinced by my repeated assertions that it wasn't usually like this.

When we got back last night to the welcoming bustle of our home city, he reached for my hand and asked me if I always felt like kissing the ground when I got back.


Sunday, 2 January 2011

Back to regularly scheduled bitching soon

Know what I love most about the end of the year? No commuting. The hours that I am usually stuck somewhere cold and surrounded by coughing people are instead spent in my jammies with a cup of tea and sweet people. My normal commute and bitching will resume as normal later in the week. Earbud Avenger may appear in fleece undies this time!