Guest Blog by Fruitcake @barjan
The guard blew the whistle, the doors closed and
the train glided out of the station, Mary settled
back in her seat ready to enjoy the gentle swaying
of the carriage and the soothing “click clack”
of the wheels on the track as the train gathered
She glanced out of the window watching the scenery flash by, green fields interspersed with a little copse of trees here and there, still with some of
their autumn colour, and little ribbons of waterway meandering beyond some of the trees, occasionally flashing brightly when the sun caught
a ripple as it splashed over a rock. Though it was autumn the sun had been shining these last few days, albeit a watered down version, still it
couldn’t help but uplift the spirits.
Mary gave a contented sigh and brought her gaze back into the carriage to scan her fellow passengers, she really enjoyed “people watching” it amused her to privately put little scenarios to everyone and sometimes her imagination ran riot!
She saw the couple who had been standing near her on the platform, very well dressed, late fifties, early sixties she guessed, she wondered why they
were not travelling in 1st class or why they were travelling by train at all and not in a big Bentley, or one of those fancy cars, as they were
obviously fairly well off, she’d noticed the very expensive looking jewellery the woman was wearing, the cut of their clothes and good quality
She glanced up to where they were sitting from time to time and noticed that, whilst the man, a rather distinguished looking, fairly handsome
gentleman, was looking very relaxed and enjoying reading his newspaper, the woman was looking a little bit on edge.
He was clean shaven, apart from a very small, neatly cut moustache, dark hair with flecks of grey, cut in a fairly classic style with a very
slight inclination to a wave in it. He had piercing blue eyes, a little cold looking Mary thought, but overall a very nice looking man.
They were both fairly tall and dressed in very well cut clothes, he in a dark blue suit, which suited the colour of his eyes very well, and over
which he wore a darker blue woollen coat, now neatly folded in the luggage rack above their seat.
The woman wore a two piece in a very rich, deep red, the skirt straight cut and a very flattering calf length, which accentuated her neat ankles,
the jacket had a slightly fitted waist, just enough to flatter the trim waist she had Mary noted as she removed her coat, which was black
with just the slightest bit of embroidered detail on the lapels and edge of the cuffs, “Very, very stylish” thought Mary.
She had a good head of hair, quite thick and cut into a stylish, fairly long bob, Mary was not convinced that the colour, mid-way between dark
blonde and light brown, was genuine but it was very understated if it was coloured. Her make up was equally understated and very tastefully done,
well applied foundation, just a hint of blusher to highlight the high cheekbones she had and a light touch of lipstick in just the right shade of red
to tone with the outfit, all very elegant.
“Now” Mary thought “Whatever can I dream up for their story?” first of all she decided to call them Edward & Elizabeth, she didn’t know
why, the names just popped into her head, by now “Elizabeth” was reading a glossy magazine and, though still looking a little nervous, seemed to
have relaxed a bit.
“I think” perused Mary silently to herself, “That he’s a Harley Street specialist who has planned a surprise holiday for his wife,
incorporating a trip on the Orient Express, going on to somewhere exotic, but has told his wife that they are going to do something ‘out of the
ordinary’ for them, as holidays go, and is travelling 2nd class to “put her off the scent” as it were and I think that she’s all jittery because she thinks that, as it’s started off like this, he’s taking her camping or something equally dire!
Mary was quite pleased with her little scenario for “Edward” and “Elizabeth” and turned her attention to the young man sitting on the other side of the carriage. Quite a personable young man he had only just reached the platform, carrying a decent sized bag, when the train had pulled into the station she’d noticed, though he hadn’t seemed in any way perturbed about it whereas she thought that she would have been in a panic, with palpitations no doubt, oh no, Mary liked to be on the platform at least ½ hour before the train was due!
The young man was wearing jeans in the style that means the crotch hangs down to the knees “What is it with the youngsters” Mary thought “Why
buy things that don’t fit properly? I always want to go up behind them and hitch them up!” he had the obligatory trainers on his feet, a T-shirt
hanging over the jeans and a black, blouson style jacket over that, “That’s something else” thought Mary “They never dress for the weather,
no jumper on, I know it’s sunny but it’s watery and it is autumn after all. Mary was not anti youngsters at all, she just didn’t understand some of their logic!
“So” she thought “What can be his story ?” although he looked clean and tidy his face looked as though he’d not slept much and she wasn’t sure if he hadn’t had time to shave or if it was meant to be, what she knew was called, designer stubble on his chin, always was a puzzle to her that one!
“Well I think………” she thought carefully, “I think he’s having one of these gap years that the youngsters have and that he’s just left a hostel, no doubt having enjoyed a good evening there last night with other youngsters doing the same thing, overslept and only just caught the train, although he didn’t seem perturbed he probably had to catch this one to not miss a connection to the next foreign part that he’s going to”
Mary thought that it must be wonderful to just take a year out and go travelling around the world, she did admire them “And it’s so easy
to get all around the world now” she thought.
She gave her thoughts a rest for a while and went back to gazing out of the window, the scenery had changed now as they hurtled through a more built
up area, some factories on the outskirts of a town, then a large housing estate with a beautiful church in the centre with a very ornate steeple.
It always fascinated Mary, as the train flashed past the back gardens, she enjoyed seeing all the different styles and different paraphernalia in
the gardens “You can tell a lot about people’s lives and characters by their back gardens I always think” she thought to herself, “Take
that one we whizzed past there, very ornate wall around it, neat gravelled area with pots of exotic plants on it, a little patio area up by the French
doors, in the angle created by the fancy conservatory, with a nice wooden table and chairs, now they’ll be a couple with either no children or grown up children, no animals and who like to entertain.
“Ooh look at all those kiddies outdoor toys in that one, now that’s a family home if ever I saw one and I just caught sight of a dog disappearing
around the side of the house so I can imagine a house full of fun and laughter and happily chaotic“, she thought.
It was now making Mary’s neck ache constantly looking out of the window so she turned her attention back to the carriage occupants and, in
particular, a young couple who had got on the train at the last station and whom she’d studied as they went along the carriage, carrying small
cases. Unfortunately they’d gone right to the other end of the carriage so she could neither hear nor see them too clearly, but Mary had a good
memory for detail!
They were both in their early twenties she guessed, her very petite with long, glossy, black hair, she looked as though she’d spent a time
abroad, Mary thought, she wore a smart pair of trousers tucked into fashionable boots with a polo necked top and a neat little coat over the top,
Mary didn’t think, from what she could see, that she wore too much make up.
The lad, as Mary thought of him, also had black hair, cut into a modern style, she thought she’d glimpsed an earring in his ear but wasn’t sure,
she wasn’t overly fond of men wearing earrings but she accepted it was the modern way, her grandson wore one, lovely boy her Chip, even she
had come to call him by this nickname that his friends had given him, much to her annoyance! Why they called him that when he had a perfectly nice
name like William she didn’t know – well actually she did, his surname is Monk! Her son-in-law said that he was called at lot worse
than that when he was a youngster!
So she wasn’t sure about whether this young man was wearing an earring, he wore nice black jeans, black shoes, a shirt, pullover and leather jacket.
Mary couldn’t decide whether they were a “couple” or just business associates, but decided that they were closer than just associates
as there seemed to be an obvious affection between them, the sort of affection that hasn’t yet developed into full blown love, she decided!
So then to decide on their story, “Whatever can they be embarking on at the end of this journey?” she wondered. After much thought she
decided that they used to be just business associates, but had just been thrown together for this business trip and had already begun to
realise that there was a spark between them. She could hear them laugh together now and then and thought it was an affectionate laugh, she could
imagine them passing papers to one another, hands just brushing and both hesitating before taking the paper held out, her blushing slightly when he
accidentally touched her knee when trying to rescue a paper sliding to the floor and he looking into her eyes saying “Sorry, I didn’t mean
…..”, Oh Mary’s imagination ran riot, she practically had them married by the time the train arrived at the terminus!!
When “Edward and “Elizabeth” were off of the train and walking towards the exit Mary had got held up behind a rather large man who was
struggling to get himself and his suitcase off of the train, so she didn’t hear their conversation.
“You see Dorothy” said “Edward” “I told you that investing a bit of money in these good clothes was worth it didn’t I? All anyone on that train thought was that we are a couple of “toffs” roughing it didn’t they?” “Yes I know George, I did relax a bit after a while” said Dorothy, “Fortunately we didn’t have to pay the full designer prices, thanks to your sister Annie telling us about that shop, which sells cut price designer wear and accessories, I’m so pleased with this jewellery too, it really does look real!” “Yes you look the real thing Dorothy, a bit of class if I might say
so!”, “You may George, thanks, and I must say that your Annie did a brilliant job with my make up too, she’s a big asset to the company” said
Dorothy, “Yes she certainly is”, replied George, “All we have to do now is hope that we’ve done enough to convince the investors at this meeting this afternoon that the company is worth investing in so that we can really get it off the ground”.
Mary finally managed to get off of the train, just as the young man that she thought was on his gap year went by and she saw him reaching into his
pocket for his mobile phone “They all have those phones these days, even the little ones, don’t know how we managed without them years ago” she
thought a bit cynically to herself. His young legs took him off along the platform before Mary had even had the time to pull out the pull handle of
her case so, of course, she heard nothing of his conversation.
“Hi Mike, it’s Bruce, yes I’ve just got off of the train, I’ll grab a cab and be with you as soon as I can, same hotel as usual? Sorry? No I
didn’t get in from Stockholm until late last night, terrible flight and had problems with my luggage so had a quick bite in my hotel room and
just crashed – went out like a light! What’s that? Oh yeah yeah fine, no problems with that, the embassy have set the wheels in motion and I
managed to e-mail everyone concerned from the airport before I left Stockholm – oh Mike, as I said I had problems with my luggage – bloody
nuisance! I got separated from it, long story, oh yes they’ve located it and it’s on it’s way back but would you have time to see if you can
grab me a suit, shirt and tie somewhere, for these meetings this evening? I’m about the same size as you, if you could hire a suit it’d be great,
if not do the best you can, charge it to the company for now and I’ll sort it later. Of course, as you know, I can never wait to get out
of the suit so did so at Stockholm before checking in the luggage so have only got the travelling kit I keep in the bag with my laptop, look like a bit
of a tramp at the moment!, I’ll check in and get cleaned up & see you later. Okay thanks a lot Mike you’re a life saver! See you later, bye”
Mary was struggling with the handle of her case, having a job to pull it up, when the young couple got off, the lad politely asked if he could assist
and, with no effort at all, pulled out the handle for her, “Oh thank you young man!” she said and watched as the girl loosely linked her arm
through his as they walked away “I knew it!” thought Mary triumphantly, with a twinkle in her eye and walked towards the exit to look for her
The young couple strolled amiably along arm in arm and the girl gave his arm an affectionate squeeze and said, “I’m so pleased to see you, I’ve
really missed you and Mum & Dad, can’t wait to see them, although 6 months didn’t seem that long, when the company sent me to Hong Kong, well
it was a bit of an adventure and exciting at the time or course, and I must say it’s an experience I wouldn’t have missed but, now that
I’m back, I realise how much I’ve missed you all”
“I’ve missed you too sis – coo didn’t think I’d ever say that!” he said, as he gave her a cheeky grin and quickly ducked to miss her swing
at him, “I’m really glad it all went well for you, to be honest I’ve been so up to my eyes in it at work, since the new management took over,
that the last couple of months have just flown by, but it’ll be good to all get together this weekend at Mum & Dad’s, Mum will be in her
element, clucking away doing her mother hen bit!!” “Yes, no doubt about that” grinned his sister, “I hope she does her famous rack of
lamb and all the trimmings! Thanks for letting me leave my big luggage at your flat, it saved me having to hump it all over the side of town to my
place, I hope Vanessa & Polly have been behaving!” she said with a smile, speaking of her flatmates, “Be great to see them too”
The young man waiting on the corner as they entered the main concourse of the station was scanning the ant-like stream of commuters entering
the hall, he was a smart young man, though casually dressed in light coloured jeans & sweatshirt, his hair, though in a modern style with a small amount gathered into a tiny “tail” was none the less neat and the earring he wore in one ear was not in any way garish. He was thinking, as he stood there, “I expect she’ll be one of the last coming out, she’ll be doing her “people watching”, as she calls it” he thought fondly. He guessed she’d
enjoyed her little stay with her sister, his great aunt Hilda, “ They’re a lively couple of characters” he thought to himself, smiling. He
was very fond of his Gran and didn’t mind at all that his mother and father had asked if he’d mind collecting her on his way back from helping
to get the concert hall ready for the charity concert being held tonight.
The concert is in aid of the foundation, which was set up by his Grandfather, to help the families of those lost or injured at sea, his grandfather,
whom he was very fond of, had worked all his working life on the water and he had taken Chip out on the boat as often as he could from when he
was old enough to climb aboard, after his Grandfather’s death two years ago Chip had carried on his work for the foundation.
Suddenly he saw her and raised his arm to wave, Mary saw Chip straight away, she’d been craning her neck to try and see ahead to where she knew
he’d be waiting for her, “There he is, bless him, he’s a good lad, not many his age would take the time to collect their old Gran from the
station” she thought, she felt very privileged to have such a thoughtful, handsome grandson.
Chip took Mary’s case from her in, what seemed to Mary, an effortless fashion and gave her a hug. “Hi Gran” he said, “have you had a good
journey?” “Oh Chip I had a wonderful journey” Mary replied “I do love the train, you meet such interesting people!”