The Eaton Diary of London 2001
Thursday, November 8
It seems whenever I sit down to add things to my diary, I find myself writing about our experiences of public transport, public toilets and the weather. In the case of public transport, there is the novelty factor as well as the fact I spend such a large percentage of my day doing it. Actually, the novelty is wearing off somewhat, but I still find things to enjoy. Today I had a bad transport day, with several delays and missed connections, so that in all I spent four and a half hours travelling to and from school. Fortunately it was not wet - just freezing cold. I think the maximum was 7C and it's only early November.
Yet again, however, my trip was quite entertaining and enlightening.
Lesson 1: You've got to hear both sides of the story.
I regularly hear half conversations as people talk on their mobiles on my carriage. I can usually tune out since its none of my business, but often the whole carriage is forced to be a part of a couple's not-so-private lively discussion. Today, a young lady was saying quite strongly: "...No! you are not coming to my Hen's Night....No you won't - I'll change the venue!...You'd spoil it completely - how could I have a good time with you there - you wouldn't let me have any fun..." and on and on she went. When forced into such situations where one would like to offer wise counsel, one is left to make judgements with only one side of the story - not the recommended approach. So we're in a quandary as to how to help the poor girl, which side to take in the argument or whether to simply tell her to shut up so we can get on reading our fictional paperbacks. Actually, I find the real life stories just as intriguing. The other day it was some poor guy on the top deck of a red bus, who got several calls from his irate partner. We only got to hear: "...but it was you who made other arrangements! I was quite willing to do something, but you didn't want to...." When she rang back the third or fourth time and our guy was gallantly standing his ground, I suspect we all would have gladly taken the phone and sorted her out - but then I'm a mere male, and maybe the females were feeling differently, and again, we were only hearing one side of the story.
It seems people forget that public transport is just that - public. But that doesn't stop such private conversations becoming at least half public. Neither does it stop the occasional rather public display of private affection. I've concluded that for many it's the only place and time they have, so why not? It does leave the rest of us unsure where to look though. Which brings me to today's next lesson.
Lesson 2: Get ready for the Theatre before leaving home.
On the same train ride home, a couple boarded looking dressed up for the
Theatre. They were happy and relaxed and obviously looking forward to an evening
out, unlike the rest of us who were our usual blank selves after a hard day at
work. That was fine, but sitting opposite people in the train has it's
challenges. Their happy exchanges were no problem, in fact they were a welcome
change from hearing all about the Hen's Night controversy. I also had no real
problem with the girl applying a little lipstick, after all it probably did
smudge a little as they kissed briefly on finding their seat on the train. I
kept trying not to notice them, but without a book or newspaper to hide behind,
how could I not notice the exchange of used chewing gum from one mouth to the
other? And where, but the
ceiling or the floor, could I look while she gave both eyebrows a comprehensive
pluck? Such procedures are surely much easier to do in the privacy of one's own home, and
certainly far more relaxing for us who sit wondering how she avoids the tweezers ending
up in an eye as the train lurches from side to side. I guess it is good that
people are less inhibited than I, but...well, I don't know. I suppose I just
have to get used to how public, public transport is, and how exposed one is to
the mores and behaviours of the huge diversity of people that move around this
large and busy city.