Is there anywhere more apt to partake in a rant concerning public transport than from aboard a First Great Western train? Wait, I stand corrected, it could be worse: for once I’ve not been directed to the front of the station where my Rail Replacement Bus is waiting (nope, that particular pleasure will no doubt befall me on the return journey when I am hungover to hell and crabbit as sin, as is always the way). I think I am actually cursed; I have never met anyone else who is relegated to the wretchedness that is the RRB quite as often as I am. Thinking about it, maybe that drunken man I refused to serve a while ago, the one who screamed that he was about to put a curse on me, actually carried out his threat…
Alas, I have no control over train cancellations, diversions, delays, etc, but this does not mean that my fellow passengers cannot come together to make my journey that little bit more bearable. I have taken it upon myself to draft a short list of rules that I feel all train passengers should adhere to religiously:
1. Do not eat smelly food. Certainly do not eat cockles out of a jar, using your hands. Do not then slurp down the remaining brine straight from the jar, in the manner one would a can of lager. (This is a true story).
2. Do not put your bag on the seat next to you in an attempt to discourage me from sitting down. Definitely don’t place your bag on the inside seat then sit on the outside seat and pretend to be asleep when I just saw you get on the train right in front of me. I do not intend to upset any locals when I say this obsession with personal space is a Southern affliction. But it is. In the West of Scotland people will walk the length of a carriage and plonk themselves down right beside the only other person on the train. And then chatter away for the rest of the journey. I’m not sure which is worse.
3. Do not talk on your phone (or, indeed, to each other). I purposefully booked a seat in the quiet carriage so that I wouldn’t have to listen to you wittering on, and I will defend my rights to a peaceful journey. Yes, I am that person who taps the Quiet Coach sign and mimics aggressively a zipping action across my lips. Is it possible to mimic aggressively? Well, I try my damnedest. The same goes for people who deem it acceptable to bring their screaming brats into the quiet coach, or their offensively loud music, or their yippy little dogs, or their too loud shoes, or their coughs and splutters. Am I coming across as massively intolerant? Don’t answer that.
4. Do not bring lots of alcohol onto train, proceed to get rip-roaringly drunk and start singing. *
5. Do not get up and loiter, crotch in my face, a few miles before your stop. Do not sit agitatedly beside me, quite literally breathing down my neck and jiggling your legs in impatience until I grudgingly get up to let you out of your window seat. (Note to self for future rant: folks who use the phrase ‘quite literally’ quite incorrectly, in the manner of Jamie Rednapp: “He literally doesn’t have a right foot….” ). We’re getting off at the same stop and it is not for another TEN MINUTES! (I know we are headed to same destination as I heard you yelling down your phone to various friends earlier!).
These rules were drafted with rail journeys in mind but can easily be adapted to any kind if journey you may be embarking upon. Planes? You’re not going to get off any quicker if you stand up as soon as we land, forcing me in the aisle seat to do likewise. We’ll get off the plane at the same time as if we had remained comfortably seated. Yet doing it your way ensures that we will have crinks in our necks from perching awkwardly beneath the lockers and I will be frantically appealing to my friends, the lost-luggage demons, in the hope that you are suitable chastised for your haste.
The rules rules governing bus behaviour are also much the same as my train etiquette guide, with only a few notable additions:
6. If the bus states on the front ‘terminating at x’ then this can be taken as fact. You do not need to board said bus and then say to driver “Are you only going as far as x?” Yes! Yes s/he is! What would it say so at the front of the bus if this were not the case? Are you actually stupid? I have been on buses when the driver has been asked this question at every single stop. I don’t think I could be a bus driver.
7. Don’t be offended if I offer you my seat. I have no idea how old you are, I was just being nice. (And from the way you shoved in from of me in the queue I just assumed you were an Angry Old Person). Equally, don’t be offended if I don’t; I don’t care that you’re 82, come out wearing heels like that and I will deduce that you are in no way incapacitated.
8. Don’t allow your Red Bull fuelled brat to ride his scooter up and down the bus. And don’t yell at the driver upon being told to control your offspring. Equally, don’t yell at driver when s/he tells you that there is no space for another buggy. Try walking – you look like you could do with the exercise…
9. Use your time at the bus stop to get your money ready! Seriously, how difficult is that? And while on the subject, the same goes for your time in the checkout queue…
10. Don’t waste your driver’s (and my) time with idiotic questions: “Can you let me know when you’re at the stop closest to my dentist?” How the effing hell is your driver meant to know which unlucky dentist you are a-visiting? No, I definitely could not be a bus driver.
Well, I’ll sign off here as I’m about to reach my destination after an admittedly rather uneventful journey; I was almost hoping for more fuel for my rant. Don’t worry, you can rest assured that those Gods of rail travel will ensure they make it up to me on the return journey…
*This is infinitely more acceptable if you offer your drink round. Only if it is in individual receptacles, of course; a swig from your bottle of Buckie just won’t cut it, I’m afraid.