When she said "I hope your children and grandchildren are happy when you die and I hope you die soon", the entire carriage hissed an intake of breath followed by a chorus of low ooohs.
P and I caught the express train from Edinburgh to London yesterday, after a somewhat disastrous Easter weekend in which we saw very little of Edinburgh and quite a lot of the toilet bowl and linoleum on the floor of our rented accomodation. I'll say only that we can't pin it down to the haggis, cullen skink or the whiskey but I shan't be partaking of those wee treats again any time soon, as much as I enjoyed them before the illness of doom struck.
The express train takes four and a half hours, stopping at Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Darlington and York en route. We'd been fairly hungover on the journey from London to Edinburgh and the trip had been marginally painful (lightened by one absolutely brilliant moment: P overhearing the late-20s/early-30s man across the aisle sexy-whisper to his girlfriend "you've got a lot of junk in that trunk, yeah" after she reached up to get her coat from the overhead rack). Following that trip and in our weakened state yesterday we were apprehensive about spending a chunk of time in a confined space in the company of others.
Because I am a precious wee flower, I don't travel well with my back to the motion; as I sweatily clutched our tickets on Platform 2 at Edinburgh Waverley Station, I blessed the foresight I'd had to reserve seats a month ago. I'd booked two seats facing the direction of travel, seated at a shared table of four so that we would have some space for books, food etc. But as the train pulled into the platform, empty, we noticed through the window that the usual reserved tickets placed above the seats weren't in place. Oh well, we thought, everybody appears to be lined up at a particular carriage, and we can hear people discussing where their seats are. No problem, we'll get our reserved seats.
We boarded and I tried to identify where our seats were. Scanning the carriage, I noted that there was a bit of a discussion, shall we say, happening in the centre of the carriage. I checked the numbers again and sure enough, said discussion was happening with a woman seated in the spot I'd reserved, facing her daughter who was in one of the table seats opposing the direction of travel. I walked down the carriage in time to hear the woman say to an elderly couple "no, I won't move, I got here first and I don't care". Space being at a premium and only two other free seats in view, I chimed in lightly without thinking - "oh, I'm sorry, I think the other seats on the table might be ours". A foolish move on my part.
Our antagonist completely lost her shit. She started throwing bags into another empty seat nearby, yelling about mistreatment at the hands of the English and crying about having to travel to London because of the death of her father and the failure of anyone to understand or care. This might have otherwise garnered some sympathy, but she peppered the elderly couple with abuse and threw other passengers' belongings. She whacked her daughter with her bags. The daughter was variously yelling at her mother to calm down and move, but yet was also abusing the older gent who'd asked them to move in the first place. Things took a turn for the worse when the woman belted the gent with a magazine and screamed the death wish recorded above. This was the point at which he in turn lost his shit and threatened to call the police if she didn't calm down. We all sat down then to a chorus of the woman's sobbing, the entire carriage stiff with awkwardness, realising that there was four and a half hours to go in this confined space.
|WHEN THINGS ARE THAT AWKWARD, YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME AVOIDING EYE CONTACT. HERE IS A SHITTY PICTURE I TOOK FILLING TIME ON THE TRAIN TRIP FROM HELL. TO BE FAIR, THE COASTLINE WAS PRETTY CAPTIVATING IN ITS OWN RIGHT.|
Almost immediately after we'd been seated however, the conductor came on the speaker to announce (and apologise) that there were no seat reservations available on the service. And announced it several times after each stop. Each occasion started our antagonist's diatribe afresh.
It was an extremely long afternoon.