Off The Rails: Notes from a train journey

Before I begin…here’s a short letter;

Dear fellow train-goers:

Headphones are the universal ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. Please observe accordingly. Or I’ll punch you in the eye.



Old people ALWAYS bring sandwiches on trains no matter what time they go on trains…it could be the 5.35am service to Limerick Junction and they’ll have a stack of Brennan’s finest White filled with some sort of compressed meat product ready to be devoured.

They will also ask the first person they see on the carriage if this train is going to their chosen destination. Because, as we all know, every passenger is telepathically linked both to the national rail service and each individual who uses it.

I’d happily spend the day on a train. It’s the only mode of travel where you feel you can even slightly interact with your surroundings. You see the countryside, cities and towns in all their glory, you can pass through unnoticed but still be a voyeur and watch life go on outside a window. You have the freedom to get up and walk about a bit, and even better, you can buy a sandwich and pretend you’re an old person!

One of the best advantages for me is the fact that I never get travel sick on trains. It’s not a nice feeling when the Pukey Monster comes to visit.

There’s a small sub-section of the population who will empathise with me here. A lot of you won’t. And I hate you for it. You will never know the panic of being trapped in a confined space made of tons of metal that’s being driven / flown by unnamed assailants, who care not a jot for you. The rising panic when you realise that the sickly feeling is starting and they’ve only just shut the doors. The scramble for anything that will bring any kind of brief respite – some cold water, maybe some chewing gum,  a hard blow to the back of the head – but you forgot to buy the first two; and no matter how much you beg the nice old lady next to you, she refuses to put you in a sleeper hold. Selfish cow.

But I digress. On with my ‘train’ of thought – see what I did there?(I’ll see myself out, thanks.)There’s a drunk guy sitting across from me and he’s got that thing where he dresses really young but his face doesn’t match?? You know what I mean…like a bad artists’ impression for a court case. This guy is a peach among the many mad eejits that I have come to attract in seating arrangements over the years. His question to me? “Can you sort phones?” But in a really strong Scottish accent so more like “Can yee saaarrrt fonez???” He sounded (and looked) like an extra out of Taggart. So of course, I decided ‘what the hell’ and told him to hand it over. He wanted to change the wallpaper on his Nokia. Hilarious. I asked him what picture he wanted. He replied “The one of Paul Gascoigne when he played for Rangers.” Of course it was. Silly of me to ask. He said all this while sipping regularly from a boozy-smelling Irn-Bru bottle. I’m not making this up. So I got to look through a drunken Scotsman’s phone. Who DOESN’T have that on their Bucket List in all fairness?

Unfortunately all I saw were two very blurry pictures of what I hope were of his HAND or an accidental click of a button. I gave it back having been unsuccessful in my attempt at his handset enquiry. Then he passed it on to his friends. Couldn’t have done that earlier?? And got it sorted. It was in ‘received files’, apparently. So glad he told me. I wouldn’t have slept well that night at all otherwise.

I honestly wonder if I have the aura of a psychiatric nurse about my person? Is that why The Crazies are drawn to me? Maybe I’m channelling the wrong nurse. Less Kate Beckinsale in Pearl Harbour and more Louise Fletcher in Cuckoo’s nest. I’ll know better next time.

About JayRow

Singer, songwriter, student radio broadcaster, teacher, commitment-phobe, depressive, loudmouth, Facebook obsessive, blogging addict, celebrity hassler, professional stalker, pipe dreamer, ambitious young thing!
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  1. Good Commentary Jen,
    Your train experiences remind me of the interminable moving tube of claustrophobia in which I passed long drunken afternoons as a student on the way somewhere.
    Two observations- making your own sandwiches is back in. I remember back in the 80s we used to slag the mammy’s boys who brought their own sandwiches everywhere. They were the same ones who brought out just enough money to buy them selves 3 pints which they would make last the whole night. These are the same people who grew up to not change the car every second year, who didnt buy apartments in Bulgaria and who mow their own lawns with a mower you walk behind- not sit on! Old people make sandwiches because they are afraid of not having the money to buy sandwiches.

    The Scots man paid you a compliment. He obviously thought you looked like a nice helpful person. He also firmly categorised you in the post-modern genus of techno sapiens. Techno sapiens is usually under 30 and has an ipod or iphone on the train- a dead giveaway. Luddite sapiens is usually over 40 and will have a battered old nokia, is nostagic for the big nokia you wore in a holster and could drop into a bucket of cement and it still worked, and will have a newspaper or some other reliable form of personal entertainment on the train. There is an awkward category of late adopter like me out there also, who gets the blackberry two years late, reads the short version of the instructions and marvels a week later when his 7 yr old son has “discovered” a games function in its menu which said 7 yr old and 5 yr old brother both fight over at breakfast.

  2. Brilliant…there’s all sorts of techno-breeds out there. I’m just over 30 though but I maintain the kind of gadget-love you only really see in 20 year-old males so I can identify with them! I was also wearing glasses at the time which is a universal sign for knowledge as we all know, not fading eyesight as medical science would have you believe…

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