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7 Reasons Not To Write On The Train

Posted on August 20, 2010 in Posts | 0 comments

As a part of 7 Reasons Travel Week, we have decided to try something new.  Rather than writing this piece in a conventional location; a quiet atmosphere of consideration and reflection – or in the pub – it’s going to be written on the train during a journey from York to Kings Cross.  We like to think of it as a bold experiment into guerrilla style blogging, because that sounds more interesting than a man typing on a train.  Anyway, the guard has blown his whistle (or I’m having another acid house flashback) and we’re off.  Here are seven reasons not to write on the train.

Space...The Lack Of

1.  It’s Tight. No, not my prose style, my deadline – or even my trousers – I’m referring to the amount of room that I have at the moment.  I’m 6’2”.  The tiny seat that I am crammed into has sufficient legroom for an eight year old child (a small one).  My back is planted firmly into the back of my seat and my knees are jammed right up against the hard back of the seat in front of me, just under the “table”.  I’ve only been seated for ten minutes and I’m already in pain. Balanced on the teeny-weeny-tiny “table” in front of me is my very small netbook, a bottle of water, a pen, a notebook with a picture of a skateboarder on it (how cool am I?) and a pair of sunglasses.  The sunglasses aren’t meant to be on the “table”, they just keep being shaken from their resting place on top of my head.  They – for some reason – always land on the f key.  Anyway, ocular accoutrements aside, it is all essential writing gear on the “table” (well, I say on the “table”, I keep having to retrieve a lot of it from the floor).  This is because of…

2.  The Shaking. The shaking of the train is making typing difficult, to say the least.  It causes me to accidentally touch the trackpad quite a lot, which makes the text I am typing suddenly begin to appear in the middle of a line I don’t want it to be on.  So if what you’re reading seems somewhat confused and incoherent, it’s because of the shaking and not, as is usually the case, because I’m confused and incoherent.  Jfmklsdjlggfkgnfk;gnf.g   (My apologies, that was my bottle of water leaping from the table and landing on the keyboard.  That happens quite frequently).

My webcam captures the moment the flying bottle makes another guest appearance

3.  The Mysterious Burning Smell. Oh yes, we have one of those.  It smells like an electrical fire.  I first noticed it shortly before the train ground to a halt in the middle of the countryside near Leeds.  Am I about to die in an inferno?  Where is the nearest door?  Why don’t the hammers next to the windows resemble hammers?  Is that a field full of cows that we’ll have to escape into?  Why didn’t I finish that packet of Hob-Nobs before we left the house?  I’m beginning to realise that my imminent death isn’t conducive to concentration.

4.  The “WiFi”. The East Coast Mainline WiFi network is slower than the train itself.  In fact, it’s slower than me alighting from the train, going to the pub for a bit, growing a beard, taking a course in both basic and advanced basket-weaving, and then walking to Google’s office in California to get a printout of the web page that I now wish to view.  I keep checking back every five minutes or so, to see if my web page has loaded but no, it hasn’t.  And I may need to read that page on how to avoid being eaten by a cow as a matter of some urgency.

5.  The Woman Next To Me. The woman sitting next to me, despite being approximately a foot shorter than I am, keeps complaining about the lack of legroom.  She also keeps staring at my screen, which is very off-putting.   She continually encroaches into my armrest territory, and when the train jars or shakes, her pointy elbow digs into my left arm and my ribs.  It serves me right for marrying a woman with sharp elbows, I suppose.    The woman next to me is now pulling a face.

6.  Announcements. I’m being annoyed by the PA system and it’s causing me to become distracted and lurch into epistolary instead of writing properly.

Dear PA System,

I have heard the announcements now, and I understand them, thank you.  I couldn’t be more aware of the location of the buffet car, the name of the train manager, or the myriad ticket restrictions that apply to my journey.  I have now decided, as a consequence of the many announcements I have heard, that I will be taking my personal belongings with me when I leave the train.  Obviously, without your help, I would have abandoned all of my stuff and wandered off the train naked to begin a new life unencumbered by material possessions and socks.  Thank you very much for sparing me from this alternate and possibly quite chilly future. Yours sincerely,

Passenger 12 (facing).  Coach C.

7.  The Time. We’ve been on the train for two hours and we’re arriving at King’s Cross already.  That’s not enough time to write anything.  Where’s my delay?   Bastards!

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