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Can you 'ear me?

Looking a little lost, we are all loitering on the station concourse waiting for the information board to tell us which platform our train will be leaving from. Up pops platform 5 and he’s off like a bat out of hell. You can’t miss him - he has the world’s smallest case with wheels and a pulling handle.

Yes, cases as small as wallets are now available - bought and used by grown men who seem to have lost the ability to pick up and carry anything larger than a MP3 player. Instead they prefer to pull their rollerpurses along the platform, getting in everyone’s way and colliding with at least a dozen ankles. They hurtle along at break-neck speed, twisting and weaving their way past normal human beings with only one thought on their mind….bagging all four seats around a table.

The excessive use of electronic gadgets and hat wearing indoors can cause faces to pixelate.
Photo: I Am Indisposed

So we get onto the train and, yes, there he is, setting up his little empire - coat on one seat, rollerpurse on another, an old copy of Metro taking up a window seat and then him alongside it, oozing over into the aisle. On the table, his new Netbook is open and ready for a game of Solitaire. Three cans of Red Bull await his pleasure.

The train moves off and he makes his first call. “Hello, hello, yes it’s me…I’m on the train…the train…hello…hello…” The call is terminated as we enter the first tunnel. Did Network Rail build it last week, since his last journey on this route?

We exit the tunnel and he’s on the phone again. “Hello, hello...yes, I’m on the train…yes…yes…we went into a tunnel…a tunnel, yes…and I lost my signal…signal…hello…hello…” We enter the second tunnel.

As daylight is restored, it’s time for a third attempt. “Hello...yes, I’m on the train. We went into another tunnel and I lost my signal…yes, signal. No, we haven’t stopped at a signal - that was the other night. I lost my signal on the phone…the phone…because we were in a tunnel...hello…hello…” We are now, of course, in tunnel number three.

As we emerge, his finger hits the green key. “Hello...yes, I said ‘tunnel’ stops the signal and the phone won’t work, because we’re underground. No, not ‘The Underground’ - I got back to King’s Cross and I’m on the train. Not the Underground train - the train home…did you hear me? Hello...hello…” Yes, there are four tunnels.

By now, he is becoming quite desperate. “Hello…hello, can you hear me? Yes…yes…I’m on the train but the phone keeps going dead. No, it’s not the battery - it’s because we keep going into tunnels. That’s the way the line runs, through tunnels…I’m not shouting - I’m just telling you what’s happening…”

Just part of the typical on-table collection.
Photo: Ian David

A little while later we come to a stop. All is quiet for a few seconds before we hear - “It’s just me…yes…yes…yes, I’m still on the train but we’ve stopped…yes, stopped…don’t know…don’t know…don’t know...all I can see are fields...yes, we’ve been here ages. No one has told us anything…Yeah, typical…OK, yes, I’ll let you know.”  The call ends and immediately the tannoy squawks into life - it’s the guard telling us that we will be stood for a few minutes because a freight train has failed in front of us.

“Hello…hello…yes, I’m still on the train. It’s a failed freight train…yes, failed…don’t know…don’t know…I hope so, I’ll let you know.” Beep. Then the train lurches forward. “Hello…hello…yes, I’m still on the train. We’re on the move…yes…don’t know…just more fields…OK, I’ll let you know.”

Silence prevails for the first time in half-an-hour. Relief washes over 40 faces. Click…click click click…click click. Oh good, he’s started his Solitaire game. Then the earphones are plugged-in and, for the rest of the journey, the carriage is filled with the unmistakable undertones of Snoop Dogg locked in a toilet.

“Ladies, gentlemen and irritating little tossers, we are now approaching the next station stop” announces the guard. “Please make sure you take all your furniture with you.” Beep. “Hello…hello…yes, I’m on the train but we’re running in now…yes into my station. I’ll be home in two minutes.”

Then, in a scene worthy of a street magician, seven electronic devices, four books, a duffle coat and a small picnic hamper are neatly inserted into the rollerpurse and it’s launched into the aisle. In the melee, two men sitting at the next table have their hair parted and a woman loses an ear. We watch with some relief as he scuttles off down the platform, pulling all his worldly goods behind him.

In the melee, two men sitting at the next table have their hair parted and a woman loses an ear.

And the moral of this story? Never take anti-depressants and laxatives together - verbal diarrhoea will undoubtedly result.

Story added 1st February 2010

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