#30 Finding a seat on a long train journey

Now I don’t travel on trains too often anymore but when we first arrived in England, we did not have the luxury of a car.  Fortunately, we lived in a town that was close to London and, of course, had excellent transport links.  The trains were particularly useful as a single train journey could take us to some of the major train junctions (the likes of Clapham Junction, Gatwick Airport or Brighton.)  Mind you, where we live now, the train can take us straight to Clapham,  Gatwick or Brighton :).  The difference now is that I have a car and don’t really go anywhere anymore (I must be getting old haha).  This post, however, is not about the wonderful transport links and how small the country is because of them, but rather how popular trains are in England, well in the South East anyway.

When I say popular, I don’t mean that everyone is feeling the love.   Quite the opposite, in fact.  The trains, especially at peak times, are so overloaded with people, that the only loving there is, is the rubbing together of elbows as everyone tries to find their own small space!  Okay, that could be a slight exaggeration (although the underground is ALWAYS a nightmare) but most times it is rather difficult to get a seat on the train.  I normally don’t mind, really.  I can happily stand in the doorway, leaning against the back of the closest chair and staring through the smoky glass at the scenes flashing past my eyes.  The only time I have a problem with doing this is if I am travelling a long distance.  The constant rocking and rolling of the train can actually make for quite a strenuous workout when you’re standing, trying desperately to keep your balance, whilst still looking cool 🙂

Even worse is when I have my daughter with me, especially after we have already had our full-day outing.  Young children become weary rather quickly and it won’t take her long to start complaining that her legs are sore and she’s feeling sleepy.  I usually get around it by means of distraction.  As long as there is something interesting outside, I can keep her occupied for a time, but only for a short time.  I see the big yawns, hear the soft sighs and groans and watch for the start of the quivering lips, then I know what is to come.  Twenty tired kilograms on my hip for an hour or more.  I tell you, its back-breaking stuff!

When that happens I will have to distract myself from the increasing levels of pain running through my arms, shoulders, back and legs.  I do this by amusing myself with people’s reactions to my particular predicament.  The guy in the corner window seat, who was grinning at me a minute ago now appears to be deep in thought, staring out the window.  The guy on the seat across the aisle has managed to find a Sudoku puzzle out of nowhere and has become rather engrossed in it, even though he hasn’t filled in a single number and I can see half the solutions from where I stand despite my brains’ attempts to block any thought processes because thinking might just add to the pain.  The woman sitting next to the man with the Sudoku puzzle smiles sympathetically whilst rubbing her swollen belly.  Ha!  Give her a couple of years and she will truly understand this particular predicament.  After all, there is a difference between carrying a three kilogram baby in a kilogram of water with a hands-free built-in baby carrier and the crushing and uncomfortable weight of a twenty kilogram, 1.2 metre tall (and I am only 1.6metres myself) fast-asleep child on your hip bone (and before all the pregnant mothers-to-be start complaining, I was pregnant too, once 😉 so I think I have earned the right to make comparisons).

I must say, however, that most of the time, someone will get off at some stop and my eagle eyes will spot that movement.  You know the one, where someone prepares to exit the train as soon as it pulls into the station.  Take the man with the Sudoku puzzle.  He will fold it neatly and leave it on the table in front of him, where, no doubt he found it, then squirm around trying to get his coat back on.  He will then rummage around under the seat, searching for his safely stashed briefcase.  Finally, as the train shrieks to a halt next to the single platform of the remote train station surrounded by farmland as far as the eye can see, in a single movement the man will jump up, briefcase en tow, leap through the train door like some train-superman, onto the platform and straight through the exit.  I, of course, noticed none of that because my one-track mind was too busy slavering over the about-to-be-vacated seat.

Finally, I can sink down into the chair, child on lap and realign my now-deformed vertebrae.  And of course, that is the moment my daughter will decide she has slept enough and wants to look at everything around her, including out of the window, down the aisle, at the startled pregnant woman next to her, under the squeaky flip-down food tray, in between the two seats in front of her and, of course, up my nose (or some such embarrassing place).

What can I do.  At least I have a seat now.  I look at the white face of the pregnant woman sitting next to me and give her my most charming, award-winning, yet VERY sympathetic, smile 😀

Copyright  ©  140612 by Karen Payze


  1. Charming chap – I’m sure he needed his seat all the way there! I have been in situations like this on buses, when I would have gladly given my seat, but I was too far back and too many people blocking the way to my seat. And all the people sitting near the front, not offering their seat to the needy person and could so easily have done! I have seen a bus driver shout once “can anyone give this elderly gentleman a seat?” and about six people offered him a seat at once. Funny how a little bit of shame goes a long way!
    Suzy 😀

    • Indeed! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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