I started writing this blog on the train surrounded by the disembodied voices of people reporting home on their mobiles or catching up on last minute work problems. Some of the voices are not quite so disembodied as they could be, and some are blithely "sodcasting" [listening their ipods so loudly we can all hear it] and there are constant mea culpa announcements and warnings on the tannoy to contend with too.
I am a twice weekly commuter from the midlands to London. It has given me the chance to see the latest technologies close at hand. If I sit next to someone with an ipad or a Kindle I always ask end up asking them about them. I know I am breaking an unspoken rule to be unspoken...but they always gush enthusiastically and seem to enjoy telling me about the features of their new machines.
Talking to people on trains can be quite an eye opener. Once I sat next to very hairy muscle man going down to London with a beautician. They were going to be on the daytime Ruby Wax Show. He was going to have his chest waxed on TV [wince..] Would love to have seen it - don't think he had any idea of the pain he was to endure!
I think on a long journey it is advisable to start any conversation towards its end to prevent being trapped for the whole journey with someone who could not stop talking, but sometimes it is a chance I end up taking. This week I chatted with a woman who proceeded to apply full face make up using her entire case of arcane brushes and powders - a process that took over half the journey. She explained to me how it made her feel to wear make up and where she got her special face cream from and I could only wonder - as a non make up wearer - in amazement.
Amusing announcements can break the atmosphere nicely. It still tickles me to hear we have slowed down for sheep on the track and it always makes me think of the first Reggie Perrin TV series in the 70's when he would arrive for work with a deliberately outrageous excuse for lateness like "22 minutes late - badger on the line!"