Thursday, 8 March 2018

Spotlight on Brief Encounter 9

Laura Jesson’s Guide to Train Travel Etiquette

1. Never stand too close to the edge of the platform when the express is due. A piece of grit is bound to fly up and lodge itself in one’s eye. As well as the immediate pain, there is a high risk of falling in love with the person who removes it for you. Stand right against the nearest wall and look away. Better still; take cover in the ladies’ waiting room.

2. In Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’ it is stated that “one should always have something sensational to read on the train.” Nonsense. One should read either a library book (from a subscription library of course, not a council one) or The Times. On no account complete the crossword in The Times – leave this for one’s husband. In any case, frown lines may be caused by thinking about the answers with too much concentration.

3. When sharing a compartment with an acquaintance that won’t stop talking, it is permissible to fake an illness or extreme fatigue, both of which necessitate a nap. There is no other means of escape without seeming dreadfully rude.

The 'Leaning out of the Open Window' position is only permisable after 12 noon

4. Remember that this is England, and do not speak to those sharing your compartment unless you have been formally introduced.  However, if it is necessary to leave the compartment suddenly, then an explanation is permissible.  So, if one boards a train and then decides that indeed one is only middle aged once, and that invitation to a liaison simply cannot be resisted after all, then one should:
-Affect a worried expression
-Give up one’s seat
-Say to the compartment in general “Oh! I’ve forgotten something.”
-Bustle back on the platform with purpose
This manoeuvre is quite acceptable in polite society.

5. One may spend a train journey staring through the window – but only if one has a corner seat.  If sat in a middle seat, then looking out of the window may involve accidently looking at another person, which is simply not done.

If staring through the window and it becomes dark, people may think that you are vainly staring at your own reflection, so remember to cast eyes downwards or move the eyeballs about. The same applies if it is dark and you are using the reflection of the compartment to keep an eye on the hatless character in the corner.

6. When travelling on a regular route, select a landmark at which alighting preparations should be launched. Mostly, this simply means straightening ones hat and powdering one’s nose. Arrival on the destination platform with an incandescent nose could cause the guard to blow his whistle prematurely.

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