On Sunday, a group of us were getting the 12:15 train from Gleneagles to London. We had spent the most spectacular weekend in Scotland and a little worse for wear, were looking forward to a painless journey.
The train was a bit delayed, but nothing too sinister and it meant we got a bit more time in Scotland which was great news. When it finally arrived, we bundled on and settled down for a relaxing six hour journey. Having all booked separately, we were peppered throughout the train.
Everything was going exceptionally smoothly, I had a window seat and a table, a cold coke to drink and found ‘Summer Heights High’ on BBC iPlayer. However, just outside of York things took a turn for the worse. We just stopped dead…There was some incessant apologising and muttering from the guard about wires above the track but he assured us that we would be shortly on the move…
Now this post isn’t to bitch about or berate Virgin Trains (rest assured this has already been done – and a full refund supplied); But rather to recount something miraculous that happened. About 2 hours into the stationary state, I got up to go and treat myself to a free bottle of water that was being offered (on account of the delay) and the nice man sitting next to me offered to go and get them for our whole table. I was genuinely shocked. It is a truth universally acknowledged that British people never EVER speak to randoms. I myself hate talking to strangers and will often freak out when shop assistants ask if I need help. However, bravely, I took up his offer and also requested a tea and any free snacks that might be on offer.
He returned about ten minutes later bearing tea, fizzy water and crisps that he had blagged from the cafe. I don’t think I have ever encountered such thoughtfulness from a total stranger. With our complimentary treats, something even more surprising then happened – we began to chat. Imagine that?! Four British strangers voluntarily speaking to one another.
It turned out that he was a barrister who had been to a family wedding, and the couple sitting opposite had been on holiday to Skye. We sat and chatted about who we were and where we were from. They all seemed really very nice, and I think in another life we might have been friends. The chatting continued for about forty five minutes as we discussed important topics, such as, what we would eat if we ever got back to London (McDonald’s for me; a gourmet three-course meal for the barrister – to be cooked by his boyfriend and an as yet, undecided take away for the couple). We laughed, joked and kept each other positive as rumours of broken loos on the train began to circulate.
After nearly 3 stationary hours the train began to move and we settled back into our solitary activities.
When we finally got to London – at 9pm (thanks Virgin) we all said our goodbyes, and pottered off going our separate ways. I’m pretty sure one of them even said ‘have a nice life’ – and I really hope they do.
It was a weird, transient moment where total strangers are actually nice to each other – and made me feel uncharacteristically positive about the great British public!
But please don’t ask me if I need help in a shop, I really am just browsing – if I wanted something specific I would have bought it on Amazon.
You can read all about Emily and Olivia’s blog take over here.