Sometimes London commuting just surpasses itself for oddly weirdness!
Take my journey home this evening, for instance.
I worked late in the office and arrived at London Marylebone well in time for the 840pm train north into the Buckinghamshire countryside. As one of the first to board an empty train I was guaranteed a seat. The other early occupant .... a woman who appeared to be grinding her teeth incessantly. I sat slightly away from her.
The carriage gradually filled up. A very pale young woman with blond dreadlocks, or perhaps just VERY MESSY hair, sat opposite Teeth Grinding Woman. A young man sat down next to me and immediately opened a bag of what smelt like a bag of pork scratchings!
More weary, bleary eyed travellers staggered onto the train. An older man slumped into a seat opposite mine and immediately opened an even smellier sandwich which, if I'm not mistaken, was packed full of egg and something else....heavens knows what....
840 approached. The train driver announced our imminent departure .... at least, I think he did....his announcement was SO QUIET it was barely there. Mr Egg Sandwich made a loud phone call to someone and chomped away at his dinner.
841 - a second announcement. Not, this time from the inaudible driver but rather from a young, VERY loud alternative who sounded slightly .... intoxicated, slurring his way through some strange excuses for the late departure.
'Sorry we're going to be late. The 837 has to go first and we have to wait until it goes. It still hasn't gone....Sorry about that....... TARA'.
Yes, you read right!
This teenage member of staff (if indeed he was a member of the train staff and not some random person who had decided to highjack the announcements) signed off with a perky 'TA...RA'. To get the full impact you need to say this final word with a broad Birmingham / Midlands accent.
843 - still stationary and back comes the softly spoken driver with his own apology for the late departure. Very polite, very quiet, very factual.... at least I think it was....hard to say....could hardly hear it.
844 - Loud announcer comes back. 'Once again, SO SORRY for the late departure...etc....etc. We'll be off soon....etc etc'
That confirmed it! The two were actually competing.... who could make the worst train announcements in the world? I started giggling. People glared. The more they frowned at me, the more I struggled to keep from laughing out loud. Mr Egg Sandwich chomped away. Across the carriage there was the sound of teeth grinding.
845 - train pulls out. Mr Egg Sandwich finished his meal and settled down for a post-dinner nap. Seriously, within seconds he was SNORING FOR ENGLAND.
Heads turned, people looked embarrassed and buried their heads in their bags of pork scratchings and continued to grind teeth. The train proceeded. Loud and inappropriate announcer was gone, older quiet driver remained, barely announcing the approaches to the many stations on what seemed to be the longest ride home I've ever taken.
Oh the joys of Chiltern Trains and mid evening commuting out of London on a cold, windy, winter's evening accompanied by the strangest set of fellow travellers!