Wednesday, 16 February 2011

In which I have a brief encounter

I was pointed via an email this week in the direction of this rather heart-warming article which appeared in the Guardian at the weekend, about couples who met and fell in love with a stranger on their daily commute.

It’s rather lovely to think in the days of automated, online everything that such old-school romance can still exist.

It goes hugely against the British grain of pretending you can’t see anyone else travelling with you. Interaction with fellow passengers is normally most definitely Against The Rules. You get on the train, and then staunchly ignore everyone, even though you’re pressed together so closely the carriage almost certainly contravenes EU rules on the humane transportation of livestock. I swear there have been occasions when I’ve had sex making less bodily contact than I do on the 07.29 into London. (Though there are people out there railing (if you’ll pardon the pun) against the social more that we should stare through our fellow commuters, like the frankly BRILLIANT People on The Tube blog. Go, check it out. And pray you’ve not been captured on camera.)

But, even if I’m now an expert at making sure my observations aren’t too obvious, I doubt I’m alone in eyeing up particularly hot types as they make their weary way back out to Home County of an evening (though sadly I’ve not seen this chap in a long while). Frankly, if you’ve not fallen in love at least twice on a long train journey, then you’ve not been looking hard enough.

I once had a flirtation with a man I met on the train.

It was many years ago; I’d not long split up from Long Term Ex, and was feeling generally grumpy about the state of mankind (just the men, that is). Sitting on an early train, I was staring wistfully out the window across a particularly bleak Fenland morning. Standing out against the flat, grey vista was the reflection in the window of a pair of bright blue eyes staring straight at me.

The eyes crinkled, and were joined by a smile on the face of a guy sitting a few seats down the train. A really, really hot one. Tousled, dirty-blonde hair; big blue eyes; freckled face. Assuming it had been an accident, I blushed furiously and quickly looked down at my lap. When I looked up, there he was again, grinning away. I meekly smiled back, and for the rest of the journey, we were exchanging glances and smiles via reflections in the window.

“Huh, that was nice”, I’d thought, getting off the train and walking down the platform when there was a tap on my shoulder.

“Hey, how ya goin’?” Ah. An Australian. That explains the tan and the textbook surfery good looks. And the fact you’re willing verbally to acknowledge what just happened.

A short conversation and a divergence in direction down different roads later, and we’d had a quick chat and swapped numbers.

Of course, this isn’t Hollywood, this is me, so it’s less wonderful, old-school romance and more, well, le vie de la Blonde, really. Instead of us falling madly in love, I later found out he was married with two children and they were all about to move back to Australia.

Naturally.

It’s probably not the stuff great films are made of. But it livened up the 08.04. And that, and a seat, is probably all a girl can expect.

8 comments:

A Tale of Two Sisters said...

I read that article, I'm not really a romantic but I almost shed a tear, especially the Marylebone station proposal! I have yet to receive any romantic attention on the train (not including very drunk people!) but I've only been commuting to London for 10 months. My sister, a veteran, with 4 years under her belt has had quite a few offers. One man even tracked her down on facebook and they went on a few dates!

HC said...

I met my long term ex in the same way and whilst we were together or if we were going through rough spots it was always nice to remember how it all started. That was just before she morphed into Beelzebub of course.

Blonde said...

Comments seem to be being rather temperamental, so @RAFairman has asked me to post this on his behalf:

'Many, many years ago a very young airman used to travel back to Camp on a Sunday night, always on the same train. After a while it became clear that the same people were often standing at the Stafford platform waiting for the same train. A small camaraderie built up between us, first nods and smiles and eventually occasional pleasantries and gripes about the weekends or about the train running to time (or not).

There was one very attractive girl who I would often try to talk to but never quite build up the courage, until one Sunday night we both got onto the same carriage Which was also the buffet car.

Being the bravest airman that I could be I nonchalantly approached the bar on re train an bought myself a drink and then, almost as an after thought I asked the girl if she would like one too. She accepted and we spent the 20-30 minutes from Stafford to Wolverhampton chatting.

I'd like to say romance flourished. I'd like to say that in some Brief Encounter type whirlwind way a relationship developed.

But it didn't. The very next week I found someone who could give me a lift back to camp and I rarely took that Sunday night train and I never saw that girl again.

Funny, life, isn't it?'

Blonde said...

AToTS: Ah, it'll happen, I'm sure. I just hope yours is rather more romantic when it happens than mine!

HC: I'm not going to comment on the latter, but it's nice to think that some people do make train encounters work (for whatever length of time).

RAFairman: It's a real 'what if', isn't it? Your very own Sliding Doors moment.

soupemes said...

I met a millionnaire COO of a major bank on a train from Waterloo to Southampton via Suburbia when I was commuting to London in my first job. He was drunk and had hiccups. I was drunk, with a McDonalds and offered him my coke in a bid to shut up the hics.

By the time we reached Woking (his stop), I discovered he worked just around the corner from where I worked.

I spent the next year meeting up with him at lunchtimes to walk around the park. He'd take me to a fancy bar from time to time - he got to have a 23 year old in his company and I drank Chateauneuf du Pape. Nothing romantic ever happened, but it was a good laugh.

I was in love with Sun Man back then anyway, the chap on my daily morning train who always read The Sun newspaper.

I sometimes miss that old commute.

Amy said...

I read that article and, I'm not ashamed to say, a few tears slipped out.

I've always wanted a brief encounter on a train. A few months ago I was commuting to London on the train daily and hoped that I would fall in love with someone after our eyes met across a crowded carriage.

Sadly I was younger than everyone else by a good twenty years, and because I was on the train at 7am I was shamefully fast asleep as soon as I hit the seat.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I remember being asked out by a bloke who was on the same Jubilee line carriage as me about 4 years ago. I got off at Southwark and he did too, and I remember thinking "Why is that man looking at me down the escalator". He waited at the top outside the station and said, "I saw you on the train and I think you're cute. Would you like to go for a coffee sometime?"

Alas, I had a boyfriend and wasn't really feeling the random connection. The best thing about the whole situation was telling my then boyfriend "HA! I just got asked out on the train!!!", thus sending him into fits of paranoia about how desireable his girlfriend was.

Oh, thems was the good old days. x

Brennig said...

It's a bit rom. I had a harmless, very slightly flirty relationship with a fellow commuter for a year. It was cute, but never was going to become 'a thing'. Fun, though.

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